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Brilliant  and  significant 
essays,  previously  uncollected,  by 
the  foremost  pioneer  in  the 
science  of  human  behavior 


Bronislaw  Malinowski 


Malinowski's  sensitive  and  astute  inter- 
pretations of  the  role  of  sex  and  of  religion 
— the  needs  of  man's  body  and  man's 
spirit — are  unsurpassed.  Now  some  of  the 
most  important  work  of  this  pioneer  of 
modern  anthropology,  hitherto  unavailable, 
is  brought  together  for  the  first  time  in 
book  form  in  Sex,  Culture,  and  Myth. 

Based  on  his  research  among  primitive 
tribes  but  directed  primarily  to  modern 
problems,  this  book  considers,  with  Mali- 
nowski's  well-known  forthrightness,  the 
questions  of  marital  fidelity  versus  promis- 
cuousness;  premarital  experimentation  ver- 
sus caution;  monogamy  versus  polygamy; 
and  parental  authority  versus  permissive- 
ness. He  also  discusses  the  theories  of 
Freud.  James  Fraser,  Westermarck,  Have- 
lock  Ellis,  and  other  controversial  figures. 

Sex,  Culture,  and  Myth  moves  from  the 
question  of  sex  to  other  social  phenomena, 
including  the  institution  of  the  family  and 
the  relationship  of  kinship,  and  then,  more 
specifically,  to  myth  and  totem,  and  dogma 
and  religion.  It  devotes  attention  to  the 
contemporary  tension  between  the  rational 
and  empirical  claims  of  science  and  the 
counterclaims  of  religious  faith.  In  addition, 
this  fascinating  and  important  book  in- 
cludes the  Riddell  lectures  on  "The  Foun- 
dalioiis  of  Faith  and  Morals." 

Few  writers  of  our  time  have  equaled 
Bronislaw  Malinowski's  ability  to  fuse  an 
understanding  of  human  needs  with  the  ob- 
jectivity of  scientific  analysis  and  conjec- 


750  Third  Avenue,  New  York  17,  N.  Y. 

Digitized  by  the  Internet  Arcinive 

in  2014 


iiiiiiiiiiiiiiii  SEX, 
CULTURE,  and 





©  1962  by  A.  Valetta  Malinowska 

All  rights  reserved.  No  part  of  this  book  may  be  reproduced 

in  any  form  or  by  any  mechanical  means,  including  mimeograph  and 

tape  recorder,  without  permission  in  writing  from  the  publisher. 


Library  of  Congress  Catalog  Card  Number:  62-19590 





1.  MARRIAGE  3 



4.  APING  THE  APE  89 

Sigmund  Freud  114 
Edward  Westermarck  117 
Robert  Briffault  and  Ernest  Crawley  122 
Havelock  Ellis  129 

6.  KINSHIP  132 
The  Impasse  on  Kinship  150 

Illi  II 







A  Fundamental  Problem  of  Religious  Sociology  266 


12.  ON  SIR  JAMES  FRAZER  268 
Science  and  Superstition  of  Primitive  Mankind  268 
The  Deeper  Criticism  of  the  Bible  275 
Frazer  on  Totemism  277 


14.  THE  LIFE  OF  MYTH  289 


Preface  295 

I    The  Three  Aspects  of  Religion  298 

II    A  Sociological  Definition  of  Myth  302 

III  The  Spirit  World  in  Myth  and  Observance  307 

IV  The  Sacred  Story  and  Its  Context  of  Culture  312 
V    Totemic  Miracles  of  the  Desert  316 

VI    The  Evidence  of  Other  Ethnographic  Areas  325 

VII    Conclusions  on  the  Anatomy  and  Pathology  of  Religion    3  33 




COMMUNITY  llllilililllllilll 

illlilll  1  llllllilllllilllll 


Human  beings,  like  all  higher  animals,  multiply  by  the  union  of  the  two 
sexes.  But  neither  conjugation,  nor  even  the  production  of  offspring,  is  as 
a  rule  sufficient  for  the  maintenance  of  the  species.  The  further  advanced 
the  animal  in  the  order  of  evolution,  the  longer  the  immaturity  and  the 
helplessness  of  the  young  and  the  greater  the  need  for  prolonged  parental 
care  and  training.  It  is  thus  the  combination  of  mating  with  parenthood 
which  constitutes  marriage  in  higher  animals,  including  man.  Even  in  its 
biological  aspect  [as  Edward  A.  Westermarck  says],  "marriage  is  rooted 
in  the  family  rather  than  the  family  in  marriage." 

The  biological  foundations  of  human  mating 

In  human  societies,  however,  there  are  added  to  the  sexual  and  parental 
sides  of  marriage  other  elements:  marriage  is  given  the  hall-mark  of  social 
approval;  it  becomes  a  legal  contract;  it  defines  the  relations  between 
husband  and  wife  and  between  parents  and  children,  as  well  as  the  status 
of  the  latter;  it  imposes  duties  of  economic  co-operation;  it  has  to  be 
concluded  in  a  public  and  solemn  manner,  receiving,  as  a  sacrament,  the 
blessings  of  religion  and,  as  a  rite,  the  good  auspices  of  magic. 

Human  marriage  also  appears  in  a  variety  of  forms:  monogamy,  po- 
lygyny and  polyandry;  matriarchal  and  patriarchal  unions;  households 
with  patrilocal  and  matrilocal  residence.  Other  forms,  such  as  "group- 
marriage,"  "promiscuity,"  "anomalous"  or  "gerontocratic"  marriages  have 
been  assumed  by  some  writers  as  an  inference  from  certain  symptoms  and 
survivals.  At  present  these  forms  are  not  to  be  found,  while  their  hypo- 
thetical existence  in  prehistoric  times  is  doubtful;  and  it  is  important 
above  all  in  such  speculations  never  to  confuse  theory  with  fact. 

Marriage  again  is  in  no  human  culture  a  matter  of  an  entirely  free 
choice.  People  related  by  descent  or  members  of  certain  classes  are  often 

This  article  appeared  in  the  14th  Edition  of  the  Encyclopsedia  Britannica, 
1929,  Vol  XIV,  pp.  940—50;  reprinted  by  permission  of  Encyclopcedia  Britannica, 



debarred  from  marrying  each  other,  or  else  they  are  expected  to  marry. 
The  rules  of  incest,  of  exogamy,  of  hypergamy  and  of  preferential  mating 
form  the  sociological  conditions  of  marriage.  To  these  are  added  in  certain 
societies  such  preparatory  arrangements  and  conditions  as  initiation,  special 
training  for  marriage,  moral  and  economic  tests,  which  have  to  be  satisfied 
before  marriage  can  be  entered  upon.  The  aspects,  the  forms  and  the 
conditions  of  marriage  have  to  be  discussed  in  turn,  though  it  is  not  possi- 
ble to  draw  a  sharp  line  of  division  between  these  subjects. 

Love  and  marriage 

Love  and  marriage  are  closely  associated  in  day-dreams  and  in  fiction,  in 
folk-lore  and  poetry,  in  the  manners,  morals  and  institutions  of  every 
human  community — but  marriage  is  more  than  the  happy  ending  of  a 
successful  courtship.  Marriage  as  an  ideal  is  the  end  of  a  romance;  it  is 
also  the  beginning  of  a  sterner  task,  and  this  truth  finds  an  emphatic 
expression  in  the  laws  and  regulations  of  marriage  throughout  humanity. 

Love  leads  to  sexual  intimacy  and  this  again  to  the  procreation  of 
children.  Marriage  on  the  whole  is  rather  a  contract  for  the  production 
and  maintenance  of  children  than  an  authorization  of  sexual  intercourse. 
The  main  reason  why  marriage  has  not  been  regarded  as  establishing  an 
exclusive  sexual  relationship  lies  in  the  fact  that  in  many  human  societies 
sexual  relations  have  been  allowed  under  certain  conditions  before  mar- 
riage, while  marriage  did  not  necessarily  exclude  the  continuance  of 
similar  relations. 

Marriage,  however,  remains  the  most  important  form  of  lawful  inter- 
course, and  it  dominates  and  determines  all  extra-connubial  liberties.  In 
their  relation  to  marriage  the  forms  of  licence  can  be  classified  into  pre- 
nuptial  liberty,  relaxations  of  the  marriage  bond,  ceremonial  acts  of  sex, 
prostitution  and  concubinage. 

Premiptial  intercourse 

In  the  majority  of  savage  tribes  unmarried  boys  and  girls  are  free  to  mate 
in  temporary  unions,  subject  to  the  barriers  of  incest  and  exogamy  and 
of  such  social  regulations  as  prevail  in  their  community.  But  there  are 
other  tribes  where  chastity  of  the  unmarried  is  regarded  as  a  virtue,  espe- 
cially in  girls,  and  any  lapse  from  it  severely  censured  or  even  punished. 
Many  of  the  lowest  savages,  such  as  the  Veddas,  Fuegians,  Kubu  of 
Sumatra,  Senoi  and  other  Malayan  negritos,  do  not  tolerate  sexual  inter- 
course before  marriage.  Among  the  Bushmen  and  the  Andamanese  in- 
stances of  prenuptial  unchastity  do  occur,  but  they  are  not  condoned, 
still  less  provided  for  by  custom  and  moral  approval.  The  Australians, 
however,  allow  prenuptial  freedom,  except  perhaps  a  few  of  the  South- 
eastern tribes. 

On  a  higher  level  we  find  considerable  variety  in  this  respect.  All  over 



the  world,  in  Oceania,  in  Asia,  in  Africa  and  in  both  Americas,  examples 
could  be  quoted  of  peoples  who  demand  continence  more  or  less  strin- 
gently, and  of  their  neighbours  who  allow  full  freedom.  In  a  few  cases 
only  can  we  find  the  demand  of  chastity  expressed  in  very  definite 
usages,  which  physically  prevent  incontinence,  such  as  infibulation,  prac- 
ticed among  the  N.E.  African,  Hamitic  and  Semitic  peoples  and  reported 
also  from  Siam,  Burma  and  Java.  The  testing  of  the  bride  by  a  publicly 
exhibited  token  of  defloration,  which  forms  part  of  certain  marriage 
ceremonies  and  which  expresses  the  value  of  virginity,  is  carried  out 
more  or  less  thoroughly  and  naturally  lends  itself  to  deception  and  circum- 
vention. It  is  found  sporadically  throughout  the  world,  in  the  noble 
families  of  Oceania  (Tonga,  Samoa,  Fiji),  in  Asia  (Yakuts,  Koryaks, 
Chuwash,  Brahui  of  Baluchistan,  Southern  Celebes),  in  America  (Chi- 
chimec  of  Mexico),  in  Africa  (Mandingo,  Kulngo,  Ruanda,  Yoruba, 
Swahili,  Morocco,  Algeria  and  Egypt)  and  likewise  among  many  Semitic 
and  Hamitic  peoples.  In  other  parts  of  the  world  we  are  merely  informed 
that  chastity  is  praised  and  prenuptial  intercourse  censured  (Bantu,  Kavi- 
rondo,  Wa  Giyama,  Galla,  Karanga,  Bechuana  of  Africa;  Dobu,  Solomon 
Islanders,  of  Melanesia;  Omaha,  Mandan,  Nez-Perce,  Apache,  Takelma  of 
N.  America;  Canelas  and  Kanaya  of  S.  America,  Bodo  and  Dhimal  of 
Indo-China,  Hill  Dyaks  of  Borneo). 

Freedom  to  mate  at  will  may  be  fully  allowed  and  even  enjoined  and 
provided  for  by  such  institutions  as  the  mixed  houses  for  bachelors  and 
girls  (Trobriand  Islanders,  Nandi,  Masai,  Bontoc  Igorot).  In  some  com- 
munities prenuptial  intercourse  is  not  meant  to  lead  to  marriage,  and 
there  are  even  cases  (as  among  the  Masai,  Bhuiya  and  Kumbi  of  India, 
Guaycuru  and  Guana  of  Brazil),  where  two  prenuptial  lovers  are  not 
supposed  to  marry.  Elsewhere  prenuptial  mating  is  a  method  of  courtship 
by  trial  and  error,  and  it  leads  gradually  into  stable  unions,  and  is  finally 
transformed  into  marriage.  Thus  among  the  Trobriand  Islanders  "sexual 
freedom"  is  considerable.  It  begins  very  early,  children  already  taking  a 
great  deal  of  interest  in  certain  pursuits  and  amusements  which  come  as 
near  sexuality  as  their  unripe  age  allows.  This  is  by  no  means  regarded  as 
improper  or  immoral,  is  known  and  tolerated  by  the  elders  and  abetted 
by  games  and  customary  arrangements.  Later  on,  after  boys  and  girls 
have  reached  sexual  maturity,  their  freedom  remains  the  same,  with  the 
result  that  there  is  a  great  deal  of  indiscriminate  mating.  In  fact,  at 
this  age  both  sexes  show  a  great  deal  of  experimental  interest,  a  tendency 
to  vary  and  to  try,  and  here  again  a  number  of  arrangements  and  customs 
play  into  the  hands  of  these  juvenile  lovers.  As  time  goes  on,  however, 
and  the  boys  and  girls  grow  older,  their  intrigues  naturally  and  without 
any  outer  pressure  extend  in  length  and  depth,  the  ties  between  lovers 
become  stronger  and  more  permanent.  One  decided  preference  as  a  rule 
develops  and  stands  out  against  the  lesser  love  affairs.  It  is  important  to 



note  that  such  preferences  are  clearly  based  on  genuine  attachment  result- 
ing from  real  affinity  of  character.  The  protracted  intrigue  becomes  a 
matter  of  public  notice  as  well  as  a  test  of  mutual  compatibility,  the 
girl's  family  signify  their  consent  and  marriage  is  finally  concluded  be- 
tween the  two  lovers.  Similar  forms  of  prenuptial  selection  are  found 
in  other  tribes  (Igorot  of  Luzon,  Akamba  of  E.  Africa,  Munshi  of 
N.  Nigeria). 

In  no  instance,  however,  is  prenuptial  liberty  regarded  by  the  natives 
as  a  negation  or  substitute  for  marriage.  In  fact  it  always  is  in  such  com- 
munities in  the  nature  of  a  preliminary  or  preparation  to  marriage;  it 
allows  the  young  people  to  sow  their  wild  oats,  it  eliminates  the  cruder 
forms  of  sex  impulse  from  matrimonial  selection  and  it  often  leads  youths 
and  girls  to  exercise  a  mature  choice  based  on  attraction  of  personality 
rather  than  on  sexual  appeal. 

The  principle  of  legitimacy 

Perhaps  the  most  important  fact  in  the  consideration  of  prenuptial  un- 
chastity  is  the  rule  that  freedom  of  sexual  intercourse  does  not  generally 
extend  to  freedom  of  procreation.  One  of  the  symptoms  of  this  is  that  in 
all  communities  where  chastity  is  demanded  and  enforced,  the  lapse  from 
it  entails  more  censure  on  girls  than  on  boys,  while  prenuptial  pregnancy 
is  penalised  much  more  severely  than  mere  wantonness.  But  even  where 
prenuptial  unchastity  becomes  an  institution  not  merely  condoned  but 
enjoined  by  tribal  law,  pregnancy  is  often  regarded  as  a  disgrace. 

Among  the  aristocratic  fraternities  of  Polynesia,  the  areoi  of  Tahiti 
and  the  ulitao  of  the  Marquesas,  licence  between  the  men  and  the  women 
was  universal,  but  children  of  such  unions  were  killed,  unless  adopted 
by  a  married  couple.  Among  the  Melanesian  communities  of  New  Guinea 
and  the  adjacent  archipelago  which  allow  of  full  sex  liberty  before  mar- 
riage the  occurrence  of  pregnancy  under  such  circumstances  is  a  grave 
disgrace  to  the  mother  and  entails  disabilities  on  the  child.  The  Masai 
punish  a  girl  for  prenuptial  pregnancy,  although  with  them  the  free 
unions  of  unmarried  boys  and  girls  are  an  institution.  A  similar  combina- 
tion of  prenuptial  full  Hcence  with  severe  punishment  of  illegitimate 
childbirth  is  recorded  from  several  African  tribes  (Wapore,  Bakoki, 
Banyankole,  Basoga,  Akikuyu,  Nandi,  Beni  Amer) ,  from  America  (Indians 
of  Brit.  Guiana,  Guaycuru  and  Guana  of  Brazil,  Creeks  and  Cherokees), 
from  Asia  (Lisu  of  Burma,  Nias  Islanders  of  Malay  Archipelago),  from 
Melanesia  (Mekeo  and  N.  Solomon  Islanders)  and  from  Siberia  (Aleut). 
In  all  such  cases  pregnancy  is  no  doubt  prevented  by  contraceptive  prac- 
tices, which  however  have  been  reported  from  very  few  savage  tribes  by 
trustworthy  informants;  or  by  abortion,  which  is  far  more  frequent;  or 
expiated  by  a  punishment  of  the  mother,  and  sometimes  also  of  the  father. 

The  main  sociological  principle  embodied  in  these  rules  and  arrange- 



ments  is  that  children  should  not  be  produced  outside  a  socially  approved 
contract  of  marriage.  In  several  tribes,  the  remedy  for  the  disgrace  of  a 
prenuptial  child  consists  therefore  in  an  obligation  of  the  presumptive 
father  to  marry  the  girl  (S.E.  Bantu,  Madi,  Bavuma,  Kagoro  of  Africa; 
Tepehuane  and  Hupa  of  America;  Kacharis,  Rabhas,  Hajongs  and  Billavas 
of  India  and  Assam;  Kanyans  and  Punans  of  Borneo).  In  some  cases  again 
a  child  of  a  free  union  is  desired  and  expected  to  come,  indeed  it  is  a 
condition  to  marriage,  which  is  concluded  upon  its  arrival  (Sea  Dyak, 
Hill  Dyak,  Iruleas,  Moi,  Bontoc  Igorot  of  Asia;  natives  of  Bismarck 
Archipelago;  Lengua,  Guarayos  and  Pueblo  Indians  of  America;  Wolofs 
and  Bambata  of  Africa).  Such  cases,  although  they  are  in  a  way  the 
opposite  of  those  in  which  a  prenuptial  child  is  a  disgrace,  involve  the 
same  principle:  the  provision  of  a  father  for  the  child,  that  is  the  elimina- 
tion of  illegitimate  offspring.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  in  all  instances  where 
a  prenuptial  pregnancy  is  welcomed,  the  reason  for  it  is  that  children 
are  regarded  in  that  community  as  an  advantage.  The  father  consequently 
need  not  be  forced  to  marry  the  mother,  he  does  so  of  his  own  accord 
because  fruitful  marriage  is  desirable.  Thus  in  all  human  societies  a  father 
is  regarded  as  indispensable  for  each  child,  i.e.,  a  husband  for  each  mother. 
An  illegitimate  child — a  child  born  out  of  wedlock — is  an  anomaly, 
whether  it  be  an  outcast  or  an  unclaimed  asset.  A  group  consisting  of  a 
woman  and  her  children  is  a  legally  incomplete  unit.  Marriage  thus 
appears  to  be  an  indispensable  element  in  the  institution  of  the  family.^ 

Relaxations  of  the  marriage  bond 

Among  tribes  where  chastity  is  demanded  from  unmarried  girls  and 
youths,  marital  fidelity  is  also  usually  enjoined.  As  a  rule  adultery  is  re- 
garded as  a  grave  offence  and  more  severely  penalised  than  prenuptial 
incontinence,  though  exceptions  to  this  rule  do  exist.  In  many  com- 
munities where  freedom  is  granted  before  marriage,  once  the  matrimonial 
knot  is  tied  both  partners  or  the  wife  at  least  are  bound  to  remain  faithful, 
under  more  or  less  serious  penalties  (Trobrianders,  Mailu,  Nukuhiva, 
Maori  of  Oceania;  Land  and  Sea  Dyaks,  Kukis,  Hajongs,  Saorias,  Cera- 
mese  of  Indonesia;  Botocudos  and  Guarayos  of  S.  America;  Illinois,  Co- 
manche, Iroquois,  Pawnee,  Calif ornian  Indians  of  N.  America;  Timne, 
Ashanti,  Konde,  Zulu,  Kafirs  and  Thonga  of  Africa).  The  penalty  in- 
flicted upon  an  adulterous  wife  is  invariably  much  graver  than  upon 
an  unfaithful  husband,  and  considerable  differences  obtain  according  to 
the  circumstances  of  the  offence,  the  status  of  the  third  party,  the  hus- 
band's anger  and  his  attachment  to  his  wife. 

There  are,  however,  a  number  of  communities  in  which  the  marriage 
bond  is  broken  as  regards  the  exclusiveness  of  sex  with  the  consent  of 
both  partners  and  with  the  sanction  of  tribal  law,  custom  and  morality. 

^  See  B.  Malinowski,  Sex  and  Repression  in  Savage  Society,  1927,  pp.  212-17. 



In  some  societies  the  only  occasion  on  which  the  wife  is  allowed  connec- 
tion with  other  men,  nay,  has  to  submit  to  their  embraces,  is  at  the  very 
beginning  of  marriage.  This  custom  has  apparently  been  known  in 
mediaeval  Europe  imder  the  name  of  pis  primae  noctis.  It  certainly  exists 
in  many  savage  cultures  (Brazilian  Indians,  Arawaks,  Caribs,  Nicaraguans, 
Tarahumare  of  S.  and  C.  America;  Ballante,  Bagele,  Berbers  of  Africa; 
Banaro  and  S.  Massim  of  Melanesia;  Aranda,  Dieri  and  other  Australian 
tribes).  Such  customs  are  to  be  regarded  not  so  much  as  the  abrogation 
of  matrimonial  exclusiveness,  but  rather  as  expressing  the  superstitious 
awe  with  which  sexual  intercourse,  and  above  all  defloration,  is  regarded 
by  primitive  peoples.  As  such  they  should  be  considered  side  by  side  with 
the  numerous  instances  in  which  girls  are  artificially  deprived  of  their 
virginity,  without  the  intercourse  of  any  man;  with  prenuptial  deflora- 
tion by  strangers;  with  temporary  prostitution  of  a  religious  character, 
and  with  sexual  intercourse  as  a  puberty  rite. 

A  greater  encroachment  upon  sexual  exclusiveness  in  marriage  is  found 
in  the  custom  of  wife-lending  as  a  form  of  hospitality.  This  is  very 
widely  distributed  over  the  world. ^  It  must  be  realised  that  this  practice 
is  not  an  infringement  of  the  husband's  rights,  but  rather  his  assertion 
of  authority  in  disposing  of  his  wife's  person.  Very  often  indeed  a  man 
will  offer  his  sister,  daughter,  slave  or  servant  instead,  a  fact  which  indi- 
cates that  this  custom  is  not  so  much  the  right  of  another  man  to  in- 
fringe upon  the  matrimonial  bond  as  the  right  of  the  head  of  the  house- 
hold to  dispose  of  its  female  inmates. 

Very  often  sexual  hospitality  is  exercised  in  anticipation  of  future 
reciprocal  benefits,  and  must  be  considered  side  by  side  with  the  custom 
of  wife-exchange  (Gilyak,  Tungus,  Aleuts  of  N.E.  Asia;  Bangala,  Herero, 
Banyoro,  Akamba,  Wayao  of  Africa;  various  Himalayan  and  Indian  tribes; 
S.  Massim  of  Melanesia;  Marquesas,  Hawaii,  Maori  of  Polynesia;  and  vari- 
ous Australian  tribes).  At  times  there  is  an  exchange  of  wives  at  feasts, 
when  general  orgiastic  licence  prevails  (Araucanos,  Bororo,  Keres  of  S. 
America;  Arapahos,  Gros  Ventres  and  Lower  Mississippi  tribes  of  N. 
America;  Dayaks  and  Jakun  of  Indonesia;  Bhuiyas,  Hos,  Kotas  of  India; 
Ashanti,  Ekoi  and  various  Bantu  tribes  of  Africa;  Kiwai  Papuans).  On 
such  festive  and  extraordinary  occasions  not  only  are  the  sexual  restric- 
tions removed,  and  the  sexual  appetite  stimulated,  but  the  ordinary  disci- 
pline is  relaxed,  the  normal  occupations  abandoned  and  social  barriers 
over-ridden,  while  at  the  same  time  people  indulge  in  gluttony,  in  desire 
for  amusement  and  social  intercourse.  Sexual  licence,  as  well  as  the  other 
relaxations,  liberties  and  ebullitions  at  such  feasts  fulfils  the  important 
function  of  providing  a  safety-vent  which  relieves  the  normal  repressions, 

*  See  the  comprehensive  references  in  Westermarck,  The  History  of  Human  Marriage, 
1921,  3  vols.,  Vol.  I,  pp.  225-26. 



furnishes  people  with  a  diflFerent  set  of  experiences,  and  thus  again  tends 
to  safeguard  ordinary  institutions. 

These  cases  where  wives  are  exchanged  for  sexual  intercourse  only  must 
be  distinguished  from  the  less  frequent  instances  of  prolonged  exchange, 
with  common  habitation,  more  or  less  legalised.  Among  the  Eskimo  of 
Repulse  Bay,  *'If  a  man  who  is  going  on  a  journey  has  a  wife  encumbered 
with  a  child  that  would  make  travelling  unpleasant,  he  exchanges  wives 
with  some  friend  who  remains  in  camp  and  has  no  such  inconvenience. 
Sometimes  a  man  will  want  a  younger  wife  to  travel  with,  and  in  that 
case  effects  an  exchange,  and  sometimes  such  exchanges  are  made  for 
no  special  reason,  and  among  friends  it  is  a  usual  thing  to  exchange  wives 
for  a  week  or  two  about  every  two  months"  ([William  Henry]  Gilder, 
Schwatka's  Search) ,  Analogous  forms  of  prolonged  exchange  are  found 
among  certain  tribes  of  S.  India;  while  among  the  Siberian  Chukchi  a 
man  will  often  enter  on  a  bond  of  brotherhood  with  those  of  his  relatives 
who  dwell  in  other  villages,  and  when  he  visits  such  a  village  his  relative 
will  give  him  access  to  his  wife,  presently  returning  the  visit  in  order  to 
make  the  obligation  mutual;  sometimes  cousins  will  exchange  wives  for 
a  prolonged  period. 

Again,  among  the  Dieri,  Arabana  and  cognate  tribes  of  C.  Australia, 
a  married  woman  may  be  placed  in  the  so-called  pirrauru  relationship  to  a 
man  other  than  her  husband.  Such  a  man  may,  with  the  husband's  per- 
mission, have  access  to  her  on  rare  occasions.  Or  if  the  husband  be  absent 
and  give  his  consent  the  woman  may  join  her  paramour  for  some  time  at 
his  camp,  but  this  is  apparently  rare.  In  order  to  lend  his  wife  in  this 
way  a  man  must  wait  until  she  is  allotted  by  the  tribal  elders  as  the 
pirrauru  to  another  man.  Then  he  may  consent  to  waive  his  marital  rights 
for  a  short  time,  though  we  are  expressly  told  he  is  under  no  constraint  to 
do  so.  Circumstances,  jealousy,  even  the  disinclination  of  the  woman  are 
obstacles  all  of  which  must  make  the  carrying-out  of  pirrauru  rights 
extremely  rare.  This  custom  has  been  adduced  as  a  present-day  occurrence 
of  group  marriage,  but  this  is  obviously  incorrect.  It  is  always  a  temporary 
and  partial  surrender  of  marital  rights  consisting  of  a  long  and  permanent 
connubium  with  occasional  rare  episodes  of  extra-marital  liaison. 

It  is  important  to  remember  that  we  have  come  to  regard  marriage  as 
defined  primarily  by  parenthood.  Now  social  parenthood  in  native  ideas, 
behaviour,  custom  and  law  is  not  affected  by  these  various  forms  of 
relaxation  just  described.  The  children  are  reckoned  as  belonging  to  the 
legal  husband,  and  in  this  as  in  many  other  ways — economic,  legal  and 
religious — these  temporary  relaxations  do  not  seriously  disturb  the  mar- 
riage relationship.  It  must  be  realised  with  regard  to  fatherhood  that 
even  where  the  main  principles  of  physiological  procreation  are  known, 
savages  do  not  attribute  an  undue  importance  to  actual  physiological 



paternity.  It  is  almost  always  the  husband  of  the  woman  who  is  con- 
sidered the  legal  father  of  her  children,  whether  he  be  their  physiological 
father  or  not. 


This  can  be  defined  as  a  legalised  form  of  cohabitation,  which  differs  from 
marriage  in  that  it  implies  a  considerably  lower  status  of  the  female 
partner  and  her  offspring  than  that  enjoyed  by  the  legal  wife.  It  is  a 
terminological  confusion  to  speak  of  concubinage  when  there  is  temporary 
access  to  a  woman,  or  exclusively  sexual  rights  in  her.  On  primitive  levels 
of  culture  real  concubinage  does  not  exist.  Some  similarity  to  it  can  be 
found  in  the  institution  of  subsidiary  wives.  In  certain  polygynous  com- 
munities there  is  one  principal  wife,  and  the  subsidiary  ones  have  a  much 
lower  status,  as  is  the  case  among  the  Guarani,  Central  Eskimo,  Arau- 
canians,  Apache,  Chippewa  (America) ;  Chukchi,  Koryak,  Yakut  (N.E. 
Asia) ;  Marquesas  Islanders,  Tongans,  Tahitians,  Maori,  Marshall  Islanders 
(Polynesia) ;  Awemba,  Wafipa,  S.E.  Bantu,  Herero,  Nandi,  Yoruba,  Ewhe 
(Africa) ;  Ossetes,  Kadaras,  Khambis  (India) ;  Battas,  Bagobo,  Kulaman 
(Indonesia) . 

It  is  not  correct  to  regard  the  institutions  of  temporary  and  limited 
partnership  described  above,  such  as  the  pirrauru  of  C.  AustraUa  or  the 
protracted  exchange  of  partners  among  the  Eskimo,  as  concubinage. 


The  institution  of  commercial  eroticism  or  prostitution  has  a  very  limited 
range  among  primitive  peoples.  It  has  been  reported  from  Melanesia 
(Santa  Cruz,  Rossel  Island),  Polynesia  (Line  Islands,  Caroline  Islands, 
Easter  Island,  Hawaii),  Greenland,  N.  America  (Omaha),  S.  America 
(Karaya,  Uitoto,  Boro) ,  W.  Africa,  E.  Africa  (Banyoro).  In  its  relation 
to  marriage  it  begins  to  play  a  very  important  part  only  in  higher  cultures. 
On  the  one  hand  it  provides  an  easy  satisfaction  for  the  sexual  appetite 
to  unmarried  men  or  those  who  for  some  reason  cannot  cohabit  with 
their  wives.  It  thus  constitutes  an  institution  complementary  to  marriage. 
On  the  other  hand,  in  certain  communities  of  which  Ancient  Greece  is  a 
notable  example,  i.e.,  "hetairism,"  prostitution  in  a  higher  and  more 
refined  form,  allowed  some  women  to  devote  themselves  to  cultural 
pursuits  and  to  associate  with  men  more  freely  than  was  possible  to  those 
legally  married. 

On  the  whole  it  is  rather  a  subsidiary  institution  than  either  a  relaxa- 
tion or  a  form  of  sexual  preparation.  Unlike  the  other  forms  of  sexual 
licence,  prostitution  is  neither  directly  correlated  with  marriage  nor  does 
it  aflfect  its  integrity  so  seriously  as  do  the  forms  of  matrimonial  relaxa- 
tion which  involve  both  husband  and  wife. 




The  economics  of  the  household  and  family 

We  are  thus  led  at  all  stages  of  our  argument  to  the  conclusion  that  the 
institution  of  marriage  is  primarily  determined  by  the  needs  of  the  off- 
spring, by  the  dependence  of  the  children  upon  their  parents.  More 
specially,  the  mother  since  she  is  handicapped  at  pregnancy  and  for  some 
time  after  birth,  needs  the  assistance  of  a  male  partner.  The  role  of  male 
associate  and  helpmate  is  almost  universally  played  by  the  husband  ex- 
clusively, though  in  some  extremely  matrilineal  societies  the  wife's  brother 
shares  with  the  husband  in  some  of  the  responsibilities  and  burdens  of 
the  household.  The  economic  as  well  as  the  biological  norm  of  a  family 
is  thus  mother,  child  and  husband — or  exceptionally  both  the  husband 
and  the  wife's  brother. 

In  the  vast  majority  of  human  societies  the  individual  family,  based 
on  monogamous  marriage  and  consisting  of  mother,  father  and  children, 
forms  a  self-contained  group,  not  necessarily  however  cut  off  from  so- 
ciety. Within  the  household  there  is  a  typical  scheme  of  division  in 
functions,  again  almost  universal.  By  virtue  of  natural  endowment  the 
wife  has  not  only  to  give  birth  to  and  nourish  the  children,  but  she  is 
also  destined  to  give  them  most  of  the  early  tender  cares:  to  keep  them 
warm  and  clean,  to  lull  them  to  sleep  and  soothe  their  infantile  troubles. 
Even  in  this  the  husband  often  helps  to  a  considerable  degree,  prompted 
by  natural  inclination  as  well  as  by  custom.  This  latter  often  imposes 
upon  him  duties  and  ritual  manifestations  such  as  taboos  during  the 
pregnancy  of  his  wife  and  at  childbirth,  and  performances  at  the  time  of 
confinement,  of  which  the  couvade  is  the  most  striking  example.  All  such 
obligations  emphasize  the  father's  responsibility  and  his  devotion  to  the 
child.  Later  on  in  the  education  of  offspring  both  parents  have  to  take 
part,  performing  their  respective  duties,  which  vary  with  the  society 
and  with  the  sex  of  the  children. 

Apart  from  the  special  task  of  producing  and  rearing  the  children, 
the  wife  normally  looks  after  the  preparation  of  the  food;  she  almost 
invariably  provides  the  fuel  and  the  water;  is  the  actual  attendant  at  the 
hearth  or  fireplace;  manufactures,  tends  and  owns  the  cooking- vessels; 
and  she  is  also  the  main  carrier  of  burdens.  In  the  very  simplest  cultures 
the  woman  also  erects  the  hut  or  shelter  and  looks  after  camp  arrange- 
ments (Australians,  Bushmen,  Andaman  Islanders).  The  husband  is  the 
protector  and  defender  of  the  family,  and  he  also  performs  all  the  work 
which  requires  greater  strength,  courage  and  decision,  such  as  hunting 
game,  fishing,  heavy  building  of  houses  and  craft,  and  clearing  the  timber. 

The  division  of  labour  between  husband  and  wife  outside  the  household 
follows  the  line  of  men's  and  women's  occupations  which  differ  with  the 
community,  but  on  the  whole  make  fighting,  hunting,  sailing,  metal  work 



purely  male  occupations;  collecting,  agriculture,  pottery,  weaving  pre- 
dominantly female;  while  fishing,  cattle-tending,  making  of  clothing 
and  utensils  are  done  by  one  sex  or  the  other  according  to  culture. 

The  division  of  labour  outside  the  household  does  not  mean  merely 
that  husband  and  wife  collect  food  and  manufacture  goods  for  their 
family  each  in  a  different  manner.  It  means  also  as  a  rule  that  each  has 
to  collaborate  with  other  members  of  the  community  of  the  same  sex  in 
some  wider  collective  enterprise,  from  which  the  family  benefits  only 
partially  and  indirectly.  In  spite  of  repeated  theoretical  assertions  as  to 
the  existence  of  the  "closed  household  economy"  or  even  of  individual 
search  for  food  among  primitive  peoples,  we  find  in  every  community, 
however  simple,  a  wider  economic  collaboration  embracing  all  members 
and  welding  the  various  families  into  larger  co-operative  units.^ 

The  fuller  our  knowledge  of  relevant  facts,  the  better  we  see  on  the 
one  hand  the  dependence  of  the  family  upon  the  rest  of  the  community, 
and  on  the  other  hand  the  duty  of  each  individual  to  contribute  not  only 
to  his  own  household  but  to  those  of  others  as  well.  Thus  in  Australia  a 
great  part  of  a  man's  yield  in  hunting  has  to  be  divided  according  to 
fixed  rules  among  his  relatives,  own  and  classificatory.  Throughout  Oce- 
ania a  network  of  obligations  unites  the  members  of  the  community  and 
overrules  the  economic  autonomy  of  the  household.  In  the  Trobriand 
Islands  a  man  has  to  offer  about  half  of  his  garden  produce  to  his  sister 
and  another  part  to  various  relatives,  only  the  remainder  being  kept  for 
his  own  household,  which  in  turn  is  supported  substantially  by  the  wife's 
brother  and  other  relatives.  Economic  obligations  of  such  a  nature  cutting 
across  the  closed  unity  of  the  household  could  be  quoted  from  every 
single  tribe  of  which  we  have  adequate  information. 

The  most  important  examples  however  come  from  the  communities 
organised  on  extreme  mother-right,  where  husband  and  wife  are  in  most 
matters  members  of  different  households,  and  their  mutual  economic 
contributions  show  the  character  of  gifts  rather  than  of  mutual  mainte- 

The  split  household  under  matrilocal  mother-right 

Most  of  what  has  been  said  so  far  refers  to  the  marriage  based  on  a  united 
household  and  associated  as  a  rule  both  under  father-right  and  mother- 
right  with  patrilocal  residence.  This  means  that  the  bride  moves  to  the 
husband's  community,  when  she  either  joins  his  family  house  or  camp,  or 
else  inhabits  a  house  built  for  the  new  couple  and  owned  in  the  husband's 
name.  Patrilocal  marriages  are  by  far  the  most  prevalent  all  over  the 

Matrilocal  marriage  consists  in  the  husband's  joining  the  wife's  com- 

^  Cf.  B.  Malinowski,  "Primitive  Economics  of  the  Trobriand  Islanders,"  Economic 
Journal,  1921;  "Labour  and  Primitive  Economics,"  Nature,  December  1925. 



munity,  taking  up  residence  in  her  parents'  house  and  often  having  to  do 
some  services  for  them.  Matrilocal  residence  may  be  permanent;  or  it  may 
be  temporary,  the  husband  having  to  remain  for  a  year  or  two  with  his 
parents-in-law,  and  having  also  possibly  to  work  for  them.  (Eskimo, 
Kwakiutl,  Guaycuru,  Fuegians  of  America;  Bushmen,  Hottentots,  Bapedi, 
Bakumbi,  Nuer  of  Africa;  negrites  of  Philippines;  Ainu  of  Japan. )■* 

In  a  few  cases  which  might  be  regarded  as  the  extreme  development  of 
mother-right  combined  with  matrilocal  conditions,  the  wife  remains  at 
her  mother's  residence  and  the  husband  does  not  even  take  up  a  perma- 
nent abode  there,  but  simply  joins  her  as  a  frequent  and  regular  but  still 
temporary  visitor  (Menangkabau  Malays  of  Sumatra,  Pueblo  and  Seri 
Indians  of  N.  America,  Nairs  of  Malabar) .  Such  extreme  cases  of  mother- 
right  are  an  exception.  They  are  the  product  of  special  conditions  found 
as  a  rule  at  a  high  level  of  culture  and  should  never  be  taken  as  the  proto- 
type of  "primitive  marriage"  (as  has  been  done  by  Bachofen,  Hartland 
and  Briffault) . 

The  most  important  fact  about  such  extreme  matriarchal  conditions  is 
that  even  there  the  principle  of  social  legitimacy  holds  good;  that  though 
the  father  is  domestically  and  economically  almost  superfluous,  he  is 
legally  indispensable  and  the  main  bond  of  union  between  such  matrilineal 
and  matrilocal  consorts  is  parenthood.  We  see  also  that  the  economic 
side  can  have  a  symbolic,  ritual  significance — the  gift-exchange  functions 
as  token  of  affection — it  marks  thus  a  sociological  interdependence,  while 
it  has  hardly  any  utilitarian  importance. 

Marriage  as  an  economic  contract 

This  last  point,  together  with  the  foregoing  analysis  of  the  household  and 
family  economics,  allows  us  to  frame  the  conclusion  that  while  marriage 
embraces  a  certain  amount  of  economic  co-operation  as  well  as  of  sexual 
connubium,  it  is  not  primarily  an  economic  partnership  any  more  than  a 
merely  sexual  appropriation.  It  is  as  necessary  to  guard  against  the  ex- 
clusively economic  definition  of  marriage  as  against  the  over-emphasis  of 
sex.  This  materialistic  view  of  marriage,  to  be  found  already  in  older 
writers  such  as  [Julius]  Lippert,  E.  Grosse,  [Lothar]  Dargun,  appears 
again  in  some  recent  important  works.  Criticising  the  exaggeration  of  sex, 
Briffault  says  about  marriage:  "The  institution,  its  origin  and  develop- 
ment, have  been  almost  exclusively  viewed  and  discussed  by  social  histori- 
ans in  terms  of  the  operation  of  the  sexual  instincts  and  of  the  sentiments 
connected  with  those  instincts,  such  as  the  exercise  of  personal  choice,  the 
effects  of  jealousy,  the  manifestations  of  romantic  love.  The  origin,  like 
the  biological  foundation,  of  individual  marriage  being  essentially  eco- 
nomic, those  psychological  factors  are  the  products  of  the  association 

*See  also  E.  A.  Westermarck,  The  History  of  Human  Marriage,  Vol.  II,  pp.  360-64; 
Robert  Briffault,  The  Mothers,  1927,  3  vols..  Vol.  I,  pp.  268-302. 



rather  than  the  causes  or  conditions  which  have  given  rise  to  it.*'  And 
again:  "Individual  marriage  has  its  foundation  in  economic  relations.  In 
the  vast  majority  of  uncultured  societies  marriage  is  regarded  almost 
exclusively  in  the  light  of  economic  considerations,  and  throughout  by  far 
the  greater  part  of  the  history  of  the  institution  the  various  changes 
which  it  has  undergone  have  been  conditioned  by  economic  causes."  ^ 

This  is  a  distortion  of  a  legitimate  view.  Marriage  is  not  entered  upon 
for  economic  considerations,  exclusively  or  even  mainly;  nor  is  the  primary 
bond  between  the  two  parties  established  by  the  mutual  economic  benefits 
derived  from  each  other.  This  is  best  shown  by  the  importance  of  matri- 
monial bonds  even  where  there  is  neither  community  of  goods  nor  co- 
operation nor  even  full  domesticity.  Economics  are,  like  sex,  a  means  to 
an  end,  which  is  the  rearing,  education  and  dual  parental  influence  over 
the  offspring.  Economic  co-operation  is  one  of  the  obligations  of  marriage 
and  like  sexual  cohabitation,  mutual  assistance  in  legal  and  moral  matters 
it  is  prescribed  to  the  married  by  law  and  enjoined  by  religion  in  most 
cultures.  But  it  certainly  is  not  either  the  principal  end  or  the  unique 
cause  of  marriage. 

^^Marriage  by  purchase^* 

As  erroneous  as  the  over-emphasis  on  economics  and  its  hypostasis  as  the 
vera  causa  and  essence  of  marriage  is  also  the  tearing  out  of  some  one 
economic  trait  and  giving  it  a  special  name  and  thus  an  artificial  entity. 
This  has  been  done  notably  with  regard  to  the  initial  gifts  at  marriage, 
especially  when  given  by  the  husband.  More  or  less  considerable  gifts 
from  the  husband  to  his  wife's  family  at  marriage  occur  very  widely.^ 
The  term  ''marriage  by  purchase"  applied  to  such  gifts  usually  serves  to 
isolate  them  from  their  legal  and  economic  context,  to  introduce  the 
concept  of  a  commercial  transaction,  which  is  nowhere  to  be  found  in 
primitive  culture  as  a  part  of  marriage,  and  to  serve  as  one  more  starting 
point  for  fallacious  speculations  about  the  origin  of  marriage. 

The  presents  given  at  marriage  should  always  be  considered  as  a  link — 
sometimes  very  important,  sometimes  insignificant — in  the  series  of  serv- 
ices and  gifts  which  invariably  run  throughout  marriage.  The  exchange 
of  obligations  embraces  not  only  the  husband  and  the  wife,  but  also  the 
children,  who  under  mother-right  are  counted  as  one  with  the  mother 
while  under  father-right  they  take  over  the  father's  obligations.  The 
family  and  clan  of  the  wife,  and  more  rarely  of  the  husband,  also  become 
part  of  the  scheme  of  reciprocities.  The  presents  offered  at  marriage  by 
the  husband  are  often  made  up  of  contributions  given  him  towards  this 
end  by  his  relatives  and  clansmen  (Banaka,  Bapuka,  Thonga,  Zulu,  Xosa, 

^  Robert  Briffault,  op.  cit.,  Vol.  II,  p.  1 ;  the  italics  arc  those  of  the  present  writer. 
®  See  the  comprehensive  list  of  references  in  E.  A.  Westermarck,  op.  cit.,  Vol.  II, 
Chap,  xxiii. 


Bechuana,  Madi  of  Africa;  Toradjas,  Bogos  of  Indonesia;  Buin,  Mekeo, 
Roro,  Trobrianders  of  Melanesia),  and  are  not  all  retained  by  the  girl's 
parents  but  shared  among  her  relatives  and  even  clansmen  (Achomawi, 
Delaware,  Osage,  Araucanians  of  America;  S.E.  Bantu,  Swahili,  Pokomo, 
Turkana,  Bavili,  Ewhe,  Baganda,  Masai,  Lotuko  of  Africa;  Ossetes, 
Samoyeds,  Aleut,  Yakut,  Yukaghir  of  Siberia;  Koita,  Mekeo,  S.  Massim, 
Buin  of  Melanesia).  The  giving  of  presents  is  thus  a  transaction  binding 
two  groups  rather  than  two  individuals,  a  fact  which  is  reflected  in  such 
institutions  as  the  inheritance  of  wives,  sororate,  levitate,  etc.  A  correct 
understanding  of  the  initial  marriage  gift  can  be  obtained  only  against 
the  background  of  the  wider  economic  mutuality  of  husband  and  wife, 
parents  and  children,  maternal  and  paternal  families  and  clans. 

Another  type  of  marriage  gift  is  the  lobola  found  among  the  patrilineal 
and  patrilocal  communities  of  the  S.E.  Bantu,  who  live  by  combined 
agriculture  and  cattle-raising.  The  wife  and  children  are  here  regarded  as 
a  definite  economic  and  sociological  asset.  The  wife  is  the  main  agricul- 
tural and  domestic  worker,  while  the  children  are  valuable  because  the 
boys  continue  the  line  and  the  girls  bring  in  wealth  at  marriage.  Marriage 
is  concluded  by  the  payment  of  cattle,  the  amount  varying  greatly  ac- 
cording to  tribe,  rank  and  other  considerations  from  a  couple  of  head  to 
a  few  score.  These  cattle  are  known  as  lobola,  or  "bride-price,"  as  is  the 
current  but  incorrect  anthropological  expression.  The  lobola  in  fact  is 
not  the  motive  for  the  transaction,  nor  is  there  any  bidding  on  any  market, 
nor  can  the  cattle  be  disposed  of  at  will  by  the  receiver,  i.e.,  the  girl's 
father.  Some  of  them  have  to  be  distributed  by  him  according  to  fixed 
tribal  custom  among  particular  relatives  of  the  girl;  the  rest  he  has  to  use 
for  the  provision  of  a  wife  for  his  son,  i.e.,  the  girl's  brother,  or  else,  if 
he  has  no  male  heir,  he  contracts  another  wife  for  himself,  in  order  to 
obtain  the  desired  male  descendants.  In  case  of  divorce  the  marriage  gift 
has  to  be  returned  as  the  identical  cattle  given  and  not  merely  in  an 
equivalent  form.  The  lobola  is  thus  rather  a  symbolic  equivalent  repre- 
senting the  wife's  economic  efficiency,  and  it  has  to  be  treated  as  a  deposit 
to  be  spent  on  another  marriage. 

In  Melanesia  the  husband's  initial  gift  at  marriage  is  a  ritual  act,  and 
is  always  reciprocated  by  the  wife's  family.  This  is  the  case  also  among 
certain  American  tribes  (Tshimshian,  Coast  Salish,  Bellacoola,  Delaware, 
Ojibway,  Navaho,  Miwok) ;  in  Siberia  (Mordwin,  Ainu,  Buryat,  Samoyed, 
Koryak),  and  in  Polynesia  (Samoa).  This  return  gift  may  take  the  form 
of  a  dowry  given  to  the  bride  by  her  father  or  parents  or  other  relatives 
but  also  directly  or  indirectly  benefiting  her  husband  (Greenlanders,  Bra- 
zilian aborigines,  Yahgans  of  America;  Ibo,  Ovambo,  S.E.  Bantu,  Banyoro, 
Masai  of  Africa;  Buryat,  Yukaghir,  Samoyed  of  Siberia;  Toda  of  India; 
Banks  Islanders,  Buin,  Maori  of  Oceania).  In  some  communities  the  bal- 
ance of  gifts  is  so  much  in  favour  of  the  husband  that  instead  of  wife  pur- 



chase  we  could  speak  of  buying  a  husband  for  the  girl  (N.  Massim;  coast 
tribes  of  Br.  Columbia;  Tehuelches  of  Patagonia;  Yakut).  Both  concepts, 
however,  that  of  "wife  purchase"  and  "husband  purchase"  are  obviously- 

Property  and  inheritance  tuithin  marriage 

As  a  rule,  whatever  the  manner  of  economic  inauguration  of  marriage, 
and  whatever  the  mutual  services  exchanged  between  the  partners,  the 
latter  have  not  only  their  own  sphere  of  activity  but  their  own  possessions. 
The  wife  usually  claims  the  title  and  right  of  disposing  of  her  articles  of 
apparel,  of  the  domestic  utensils  and  often  of  the  special  implements  and 
fruits  of  her  pursuit.  The  importance  of  woman's  work  in  agriculture, 
her  social  influence  due  to  this  and  her  specific  claims  to  the  agricultural 
produce — not  the  ownership  of  the  land,  which  is  generally  vested  in 
man — have  given  rise  to  the  economic  theory  of  mother-right. 

Very  often  the  possessions  of  the  husband  and  wife  are  inherited  by 
their  respective  kindred,  and  not  by  the  surviving  partner.  The  inheritance 
of  the  wife  by  the  husband's  brother  (the  custom  of  levitate),  which  is 
known  from  the  Old  Testament,  but  has  a  fairly  wide  range  of  distribu- 
tion,^ is  not  to  be  regarded  as  an  economic  transaction.  Like  the  inherit- 
ance of  a  widow  under  mother-right  and  like  the  custom  of  killing  the 
widows  and  the  suttee  of  India,  it  is  the  expression  of  the  matrimonial 
bonds  outlasting  death,  and  defining  the  widow's  behaviour  afterwards. 

Marriage  as  a  legal  contract 

Marriage  is  never  a  mere  cohabitation,  and  in  no  society  are  two  people  of 
different  sex  allowed  to  share  life  in  common  and  produce  children  with- 
out having  the  approval  of  the  community.  This  is  obtained  by  going 
through  the  legal  and  ritual  formalities  which  constitute  the  act  of 
marriage,  by  accepting  in  this  the  obligations  which  are  entailed  in  mar- 
riage and  the  privileges  which  it  gives,  and  by  having  later  on  to  submit 
to  the  consequences  of  the  union  as  regards  children. 

The  legal  side  of  marriage  is  therefore  not  made  up  of  special  activities, 
such  as  constitute  its  sexual,  economic,  domestic  or  parental  aspect.  It  is 
rather  that  special  side  in  each  of  these  aspects,  which  makes  them  defined 
by  tradition,  formally  entered  upon,  and  made  binding  by  special  sanc- 

First  of  all,  the  whole  system  of  obligations  and  rights  which  consti- 
tute marriage  is  in  each  society  laid  down  by  tradition.  The  way  in 
which  people  have  to  cohabit  and  work  together  is  stipulated  by  tribal 
law:  whether  the  man  joins  his  wife  or  vice  versa;  whether  and  how  they 

'See  the  extensive  lists  given  by  E.  A.  Westermarck,  op.  cit.,  Vol.  Ill,  pp.  208-10; 
Robert  Briffault,  op.  cit.,  Vol.  I,  pp.  767-72. 



live  together,  completely  or  partially;  whether  the  sexual  appropriation  is 
complete,  making  adultery  in  either  partner  an  offence,  or  whether,  sub- 
ject to  certain  restrictions,  there  may  be  waiving  of  the  sexual  rights; 
whether  there  is  economic  co-operation  and  what  are  its  limits.  The  details 
and  the  typical  rules  and  variations  of  all  this  have  already  been  discussed, 
as  well  as,  incidentally,  the  ways  in  which  the  rules  are  enforced.  But  it 
must  be  added  that  in  no  other  subject  of  anthropology  is  our  knowledge 
so  limited  as  in  the  dynamic  problems  of  why  rules  are  kept,  how  they 
are  enforced,  and  how  they  are  evaded  or  partially  broken.^ 

Only  on  one  or  two  points  are  we  habitually  informed  by  ethnographic 
observers,  as  to  what  penalties  attach  to  a  breach  of  law  and  custom 
and  what  premiums  are  set  on  their  careful  and  generous  observance. 
Thus,  we  are  often  informed  how  adultery  is  dealt  with,  though  we  usu- 
ally get  exaggerated  accounts  of  the  severity  of  the  law  on  this  point. 
Again,  to  anticipate,  incest  and  exogamy  are  usually  surrounded  with 
definite  sanctions,  some  social  and  some  supernatural.  The  manners  and 
morals  of  daily  contact  within  the  household  are  usually  laid  down  and 
enforced  by  that  complicated  and  imponderable  set  of  forces  which 
governs  all  human  behaviour  in  its  everyday  aspects  and  makes  people 
distinguish  between  "good"  and  "bad  form"  in  every  human  society.  The 
validity  of  the  economic  duties  of  husband  and  wife  are  as  a  rule  based 
on  the  fact  that  the  services  of  the  one  are  conditional  on  the  services 
of  the  other,  and  that  a  very  lazy  or  unscrupulous  partner  would  eventu- 
ally be  divorced  by  the  other. 


This  brings  us  to  the  subject  of  the  dissolution  of  marriage.  Marriage  is 
as  a  rule  concluded  for  life — at  times  beyond  death,  as  mentioned  above. 
It  is  questionable  whether  the  short  period  "marriages"  reported  from 
isolated  districts  (Eskimo  of  Ungava  district,  some  tribes  of  the  Indian 
Archipelago,  Arabia,  Persia,  Tibet)  deserve  the  name  of  marriage,  i.e., 
whether  they  should  not  be  put  into  a  different  sociological  category; 
but  our  accounts  of  them  are  too  slight  to  allow  of  deciding  this  question. 
In  some  tribes  we  are  told  that  marriage  is  indissoluble  (Veddas,  Anda- 
manese,  certain  tribes  of  the  Indian  Archipelago  and  Malay  Peninsula). 
The  general  rule,  however,  is  that  divorce  is  possible,  but  not  easy,  and 
entails  damages  and  disabilities  to  both  partners.  Even  where  divorce  is 
said  to  be  easy  for  husband  and  for  wife,  we  find  on  further  enquiry  that 
a  considerable  price  has  to  be  paid  for  the  "liberty  to  divorce,"  that  it  is 
easy  only  to  exceptionally  powerful  or  successful  men  and  women,  and 
that  it  involves  in  most  cases  loss  of  prestige  and  a  moral  stigma.  Often 

'  Cf.  B.  Malinowski,  Crime  and  Custom  in  Savage  Society,  1926. 



also  divorce  is  easy  only  before  children  have  been  born,  and  it  becomes 
difficult  and  undesirable  after  their  arrival.  In  fact  the  main  ground  for 
divorce,  besides  adultery,  economic  insufficiency  or  bad  temper,  is  sterility 
in  the  wife  or  impotence  in  the  husband.  This  emphasises  the  aspect  of 
marriage  as  an  institution  for  the  preservation  of  children. 

The  threat  of  divorce  and  of  the  disabilities  which  it  entails  is  one  of 
the  main  forces  which  keep  husband  and  wife  to  their  prescribed  conduct. 
At  times  the  husband  is  kept  in  check  by  the  payment  he  gave  at  mar- 
riage and  which  he  can  reclaim  only  when  the  union  is  dissolved  through 
no  fault  of  his.  At  times  the  considerable  economic  value  of  the  wife  is 
the  motive  of  his  good  and  dutiful  conduct. 

The  status  of  husband  and  wife 

The  duties  of  the  wife  towards  the  husband  are  apparently  in  some  com- 
munities enforced  to  a  considerable  extent  by  his  personal  strength  and 
brutality,  and  by  the  authority  given  him  by  custom.  In  others,  however, 
husband  and  wife  have  an  almost  equal  status.  Here  again,  unfortunately, 
we  find  too  often  in  ethnographical  accounts  generalities  and  stock  phrases 
such  as  that  ''the  wife  is  regarded  as  the  personal  property  of  the  hus- 
band," as  ''his  slave  or  chattel,"  or  else  again  we  read  that  "the  status  of 
the  wife  is  high."  The  only  correct  definition  of  status  can  be  given  by  a 
full  enumeration  of  all  mutual  duties,  of  the  limits  to  personal  liberty 
established  by  marriage,  and  of  the  safeguards  against  the  husband's  bru- 
tality or  remissness,  or,  on  the  other  hand,  against  the  wife's  shrewish- 
ness and  lack  of  sense  of  duty.  It  is  often  held  that  mother-right  and  the 
economic  importance  of  woman's  work,  especially  in  agricultural  com- 
munities, go  with  a  high  social  status  of  the  wife,  while  in  collecting, 
nomadic  and  pastoral  tribes  her  status  is  on  the  whole  lower.® 

Marriage  not  only  defines  the  relations  of  the  consorts  to  each  other, 
but  also  their  status  in  society.  In  most  tribes,  marriage  and  the  establish- 
ment of  an  independent  household  are  a  condition  for  the  attainment 
of  the  legal  status  of  full  tribesman  in  the  male  and  of  the  rank  and 
title  of  matron  in  the  woman.  Under  the  system  of  age-grades  the 
passage  through  certain  initiation  rites  is  a  condition  of  marriage  and 
this  is  as  a  rule  concluded  soon  after  it  is  permitted. -"^^  In  all  tribes,  how- 
ever, all  normal  and  healthy  tribesmen  and  women  are  married,  and  even 
widows  and  widowers  remarry  if  they  are  not  too  old,  under  the  penalty 
of  losing  some  of  their  influence.  The  attainment  of  a  full  tribal  status  is 
always  a  powerful  motive  for  marriage. 

"E.  Grosse,  in  Die  Formen  der  Familie  tind  die  Formen  der  Wirtschajt;  Wilhelm 
Schmidt  and  Koppers,  in  Vdl\er  und  Kulturen. 

Cf.  Hutton  Webster,  Primitive  Secret  Societies  [2nd  ed.,  rev.,  1932];  Heinrich 
Schurtz,  Alterskjassen  und  Mdnnerbiinde,  1902, 



The  laws  of  legitimate  descent 

Marriage  affects  not  only  the  status  of  the  consorts  and  their  relations, 
but  imposes  also  a  series  of  duties  on  the  parents  with  regard  to  children, 
and  defines  the  status  of  children  by  reference  to  the  parents. 

As  we  know  already  in  virtue  of  the  universal  principle  of  legitimacy, 
the  full  tribal  or  civil  status  of  a  child  is  obtained  only  through  a  legal 
marriage  of  the  parents.  Legitimacy  is  at  times  sanctioned  by  penalties 
which  devolve  on  the  parents,  at  times  by  the  disabilities  under  which 
illegitimate  children  suffer,  at  times  again  by  inducements  for  the  adop- 
tion of  children  or  for  their  legitimisation  by  the  presumptive  father  or 
some  other  man. 

In  connection  with  this  latter  point  it  is  necessary  to  realise  that  the 
children  have  invariably  to  return  in  later  life  some  of  the  benefits  re- 
ceived earlier.  The  aged  parents  are  always  dependent  on  their  children, 
usually  on  the  married  boys.  Girls  at  marriage  often  bring  in  some  sort  of 
emolument  to  their  parents  and  then  continue  to  help  them  and  look  after 
them.  The  duties  of  legal  solidarity  also  devolve  on  the  children,  uniting 
them  to  father  or  mother  according  to  whether  we  deal  with  a  matrilineal 
or  a  patrilineal  society. 

One  of  the  most  important  legal  implications  of  marriage  is  that  it 
defines  the  relation  of  the  children  to  certain  wider  groups,  the  local 
community,  the  clan,  the  exogamous  division  and  the  tribe.  The  children 
as  a  rule  follow  one  of  the  parents,  though  more  complex  systems  are  also 
in  existence,  and  the  unilateral  principle  of  descent  is  never  absolute. 
This  however  belongs  to  the  subject  of  Kinship. 

Modes  of  concluding  marriage 

In  studying  the  legal  aspect  of  marriage,  it  is  extremely  important  to 
realise  that  the  matrimonial  contract  never  derives  its  binding  force  from 
one  single  act  or  from  one  sanction.  The  mistake  has  often  been  made  in 
discussing  the  "origin  of  marriage,"  of  attributing  to  this  or  that  mode 
of  concluding  it  a  special  genetic  importance  or  legal  value.  Marriage  has 
in  turn  been  derived  from  mere  subjugation  by  brutal  force  (the  old 
patriarchal  theory)  ;  from  appropriation  by  capture  in  foreign  tribes 
([John  Ferguson]  McLennan's  hypothesis) ;  from  feminine  revolt  against 
hetairism  ([Johann  Jakob]  Bachofen) ;  from  economic  appropriation  or 
purchase  (the  materialist  interpretation  of  early  marriages);  from  pithe- 
canthropic  patriarchy  (Atkinson,  Freud) ;  and  from  matria  pofestas  (Brif- 
fault).  All  these  views  overstate  the  importance  of  one  aspect  of  marriage 
or  even  of  one  element  in  the  modes  of  its  conclusion;  some  even  invent 
an  imaginary  state  or  condition. 

In  reality  marriage  is  the  most  important  legal  contract  in  every  hu- 



man  society,  the  one  which  refers  to  the  continuity  of  the  race;  it  im- 
plies a  most  delicate  and  difficult  adjustment  of  a  passionate  and  emo- 
tional relationship  with  domestic  and  economic  co-operation;  it  involves 
the  cohabitation  of  male  and  female,  perennially  attracted  and  yet  in 
many  ways  for  ever  incompatible;  it  focuses  in  a  difficult  personal  rela- 
tionship of  two  people  the  interest  of  wider  groups:  of  their  progeny,  of 
their  parents,  of  their  kindred,  and  in  fact  of  the  whole  community. 

The  validity  of  the  marriage  bond  derives  its  sanctions  from  all  these 
sources.  This  expresses  one  of  the  most  important  truths  concerning 
marriage.  The  complexity  of  motives  for  which  it  is  entered,  the  utility 
of  the  partners  to  each  other,  their  common  interest  in  the  children's 
welfare,  last,  not  least,  the  interest  which  the  kindred  and  the  community 
have  in  the  proper  upbringing  of  the  offspring — these  are  the  real  founda- 
tions of  marriage  and  the  source  of  its  legally  binding  character. 

All  this  finds  an  expression  in  the  modes  of  contracting  marriage. 
These  always  contain  the  element  of  public  approval;  the  collaboration 
of  the  families  and  the  kindred  of  each  partner;  some  material  pledges 
and  securities;  some  ritual  and  religious  sanctions;  last,  not  least,  the 
consent  of  the  parties  concerned. 

In  the  old  manuals  and  statements  concerning  marriage  an  important 
place  is  usually  taken  by  the  classical  list  of  the  various  "modes  of  con- 
cluding" it:  marriage  by  capture,  by  purchase  and  by  service,  by  infant 
betrothal,  elopement,  exchange,  mutual  consent,  and  so  on.^^ 

This  classification  is  unsatisfactory.  It  exaggerates  as  a  rule  one  aspect 
out  of  all  proportion,  and  attributes  to  this  one  aspect  an  overwhelming 
influence  upon  the  whole  institution  which  it  never  possesses.  "Marriage 
by  purchase"  we  have  already  dismissed  as  a  crude  misnomer,  while  "serv- 
ice" is  but  a  detail  in  the  economics  of  certain  marriages.  "Marriage  by 
capture,"  which  has  played  such  a  prominent  part  in  speculation  and 
controversy  from  McLennan  onward,  never  could  have  been  a  real  institu- 
tion: though  a  man  may  occasionally  wed  a  woman  captured  by  force 
in  a  war,  such  an  occurrence  is  always  an  exception;  it  never  was  a  rule, 
still  less  a  "stage  in  human  evolution."  Tribal  endogamy  is  the  universal 
rule  of  mankind.  Ceremonial  fights  and  ritual  capture  occur  at  wedding 
ceremonies  over  a  wide  area.^^  They  are  capable  of  interpretation  in  terms 
of  actual  psychology  and  of  existing  social  conditions.  To  regard  them 
as  survivals  of  "marriage  by  capture"  is  erroneous,  and  on  this  point 
there  is  now  an  almost  universal  agreement.  Capture  and  violence,  as  well 
as  purchase  from  other  tribes,  or  on  the  slave-market,  lead  to  concubinage, 
and  at  times  supply  prostitutes,  but  only  very  rarely  legal  wives. 

"  Cf.  even  such  an  excellent  and  recent  account  as  the  article  on  "Marriage,"  by 
W.  H.  R.  Rivers,  in  Hastings'  Encyclopaedia  of  Religion  and  Ethics. 

See  E.  A.  Westermarck,  op.  cit.,  Vol.  II,  pp.  254-77;  A.  E.  Crawley,  [The  Mystic 
Rose,]  Vol.  II,  pp.  76-100;  Robert  Briffault,  op.  cit.,  Vol.  II,  pp.  230-50. 



Like  the  contract  itself,  so  also  the  modes  of  concluding  it  contain  a 
great  variety  of  binding  and  of  determining  factors.  But  a  real  and 
relevant  distinction  can  still  be  made  between  those  marriages  which  are 
contracted  primarily  by  rules  of  tradition;  those  which  are  arranged  for 
by  the  families  or  the  kindred  of  the  consorts;  and  those  which  arise 
from  free  and  spontaneous  choice  of  the  mates.  In  no  type  of  marriage 
is  any  of  these  three  elements — tradition,  arrangement  by  families  or  their 
consent,  and  free  choice — completely  absent.  But  one  or  other  may  be 
conspicuously  predominant. 

The  most  usual  type  of  traditionally  prescribed  union  is  cross-cousin 
marriage,  with  a  wide  distribution,  practised  very  extensively  all  over 
Oceania,  Australia  and  S.  India,  and  sporadically  in  Africa,  N.  America 
and  Asia.  The  marriage  of  parallel  cousins  is  less  frequent,  and  found 
notably  among  Semitic  peoples.^^  Even  less  common  are  marriages  pre- 
scribed between  other  classes  of  relatives,  e.g.,  between  a  man  and  his 
brother's  daughter  (N.  Australia,  some  parts  of  Melanesia),  or  his  sister's 
daughter  (S.  India),  or  his  father's  sister  (certain  parts  of  Melanesia, 
Dene  of  N.  America).  Another  type  of  prescribed  marriage  is  by  in- 
heritance, of  which  the  levirate  and  sororate  are  the  most  notable. 

Besides  such  traditionally  defined  unions,  there  are  also  marriages  recog- 
nised as  convenient  and  desirable  by  the  respective  families  and  arranged 
for  by  them.  Infant  betrothal  (prevalent  in  Australia  and  Melanesia), 
where  a  definite  claim  is  established;  or  infant  marriage  (reported  espe- 
cially from  India),  where  the  bond  is  effectively  concluded,  are  two  of 
the  most  usual  forms  of  these.  The  main  motive  for  infant  unions  is  the 
determination  of  the  families  to  secure  a  convenient  union.  In  Australia, 
where  an  infant  is  often  allotted  to  a  mature  male,  the  power  of  old  men 
and  their  keenness  to  secure  young  wives,  are  at  the  root  of  this  institu- 
tion. Whether  similar  conditions  existed,  or  even  still  survive  in  Africa, 
is  an  interesting  problem.^^ 

In  many  communities,  including  some  advanced  nations  of  Europe, 
marriage  is  mainly  determined  by  social  or  financial  considerations,  and 
in  this  the  parents  of  bride  and  bridegroom  have  as  much  to  say  as  the 
two  people  directly  concerned.  In  some  primitive  tribes  two  brothers 
exchange  sisters  (Australia),  or  a  man's  matrilineal  uncle  or  patrilineal 
aunt  has  some  say  (Melanesia) .  Where  the  initial  payments  are  very  heavy 
and  where  they  are  used  to  secure  a  wife  for  the  bride's  brother,  marriage 
is  usually  also  a  matter  of  an  arrangement  rather  than  free  choice. 

With  all  this  free  choice  still  remains  the  most  important  element.  Very 

Cf.  Sir  James  George  Frazer,  Folk.-Lore  in  the  Old  Testament,  [3  vols.,  1919,] 
Vol.  II,  pp.  145  sqq.;  B.  Z.  Seligman,  "Studies  in  Semitic  Kinship,"  Bull.  School  Oriental 
Studies.  1923-24. 

"  See  B.  Z.  Seligman,  "Marital  Gerontocracy  in  Africa,"  Journal  of  the  Royal 
Anthropological  Institute,  1924. 



often  an  infant  betrothal  or  some  other  form  of  arranged  union  is  broken 
by  one  of  the  people  directly  affected,  and  marriage  by  elopement,  with 
the  subsequent  consent  of  family  and  kindred,  overrules  all  other  con- 
siderations. Invariably  in  all  communities  the  majority  of  unions  come 
from  the  initiative  of  the  partners.  Marriage  by  free  personal  choice  is  the 
normal  marriage,  and  the  choice  is  mainly  determined  by  personal  attrac- 
tion, which  does  not  mean  merely  a  sexual  or  erotic  attraction.  In  gen- 
eral the  physical  appeal  combines  with  compatibility  of  character,  and 
such  social  considerations  as  suitabiUty  of  rank  and  of  occupation  and  of 
economic  benefits  also  influence  the  choice.  Here  again  the  nature  of 
marriage  entails  a  complexity  of  motives,  and  its  stability  has  always  to 
be  secured  by  a  suitable  compromise  between  conflicting  interests. 

The  religious  and  ceremonial  side  of  marriage 

The  sanctity  of  the  marriage  bond  is  not  found  merely  in  the  Christian 
religion,  nor  is  it  a  prerogative  of  the  higher  cultures.  The  supernatural 
sanction,  derived  from  a  solemn,  publicly  celebrated,  spiritually  as  well  as 
ethically  hallowed  ceremony,  adds  to  the  binding  forces  of  mere  law.  Mar- 
riage is  valid  as  a  legal  contract  in  so  far  as  its  breach  is  visited  by  worldly 
retributions  and  its  generous  fulfilment  carries  worldly  benefits.  As  a 
sacrament,  marriage  in  primitive  and  civilised  societies  alike  is  protected 
by  spiritual  powers,  rewarding  those  who  observe  matrimonial  duties 
meticulously  and  piously,  and  punishing  those  who  neglect  them. 

The  religious  aspect  of  marriage  is  therefore  closely  akin  to  the  legal, 
in  that  it  adds  to  the  validity  and  sanctity  of  other  functions,  rather  than 
establishes  new  ones.  It  finds  expression  in  the  acts  of  establishment  and 
those  of  dissolution:  religious  rites  are  to  be  found  at  betrothal  and 
wedding,  while  divorce  is  often  religiously  defined  and  qualified,  and  at 
death  the  breach  of  the  bond  finds  its  spiritual  expression  in  the  duties, 
observances  and  ceremonies  incumbent  on  the  surviving  partner.  Besides 
these  ceremonial  manifestations  in  which  the  bonds  of  marriage  are  reli- 
giously tied  or  dissolved,  religious  ethics  establish  those  rules  of  matri- 
monial conduct  which  are  sanctioned  supernaturally  or  felt  binding 
through  their  appeal  to  moral  sense  rather  than  to  self-interest. 

Ceremonies  of  betrothal  and  wedding 

Betrothal  can  be  defined  as  an  act  preliminary  to  marriage,  establishing 
mutually  presumptive  claims.  The  period  between  betrothal  and  marriage 
varies,  and  where  it  is  short,  it  is  often  difficult  or  even  impossible  to 
decide  whether  we  deal  with  an  act  of  betrothal  or  an  inaugural  wedding 
rite.  It  is  also  unprofitable  to  draw  a  very  sharp  line  of  distinction  between 
infant  betrothal  and  infant  marriage.  Where  betrothal  imposes  real  obliga- 
tions and  a  valid  tie,  the  rites  then  observed  usually  fulfil  in  their  religious 
bearing  the  same  function  as  those  of  marriage,  and  consist  of  the  same 



or  similar  actions,  both  as  regards  ritual  technique  and  symbolic  mean- 
ing. It  will  be  best  therefore  to  discuss  the  binding  rites  of  marriage  and 
betrothal  together. 

These  rites  and  ceremonies  cover  a  very  wide  range,  from  the  simplest 
act,  such  as  a  meal  openly  taken  in  common,  to  complex  and  elaborate 
tribal  festivities,  extended  over  a  considerable  period  of  time.  But  in  every 
human  society  marriage  is  concluded  by  a  ritual  enactment.  It  might  be 
disputed  whether  such  rites  in  their  simplest  form  present  a  genuine 
religious  character;  but  most  sociologists  would  agree  that  they  always 
possess  some  religious  elements  in  that  they  are  solemn  and  public;  in  their 
more  developed  form  and  in  higher  cultures  they  become  definitely  re- 
ligious. It  will  be  best  in  discussing  the  nature  of  wedding  rites  not  to 
draw  too  pedantic  a  distinction  between  their  legal  and  religious  aspects, 
since  the  two  often  merge  or  shade  into  each  other  imperceptibly. 

**The  most  general  social  object"  of  a  wedding  rite  is  [as  Westermarck 
says]  "to  give  publicity  to  the  union."  By  this  the  legal  as  well  as  the 
religious  sanction  of  the  union  is  established.  The  contract  is  made  bind- 
ing in  that  all  the  members  of  the  community  bear  witness  to  it;  it  is 
hallowed  in  that  the  two  mates  solemnly  and  openly  declare  before  man, 
God  or  other  spiritual  powers  that  they  belong  to  each  other. 

The  symbolism  of  marriage  ritual 

A  marriage  rite  is  as  a  rule  also  a  ritual  act  with  a  symbolic  significance, 
and  as  such  it  is  often  conceived  to  possess  a  magical  efficacy;  it  contains 
a  moral  precept  or  expresses  a  legal  principle. 

Thus  the  fundamental  purpose  of  marriage,  the  continuity  of  the  race, 
is  indicated  in  wedding  ceremonies  by  ritual,  intended  to  make  the  union 
fruitful,  to  obviate  the  dangers  associated  with  sexual  intercourse,  es- 
pecially with  defloration,  and  to  facilitate  the  various  stages  of  the  process 
of  generation  from  the  first  act  to  delivery.  Among  the  fertility  rites  a 
prominent  place  is  taken  by  the  use  of  fruit  or  grain  or  other  cereals, 
which  are  sprinkled  over  the  newly  wedded  couple  or  on  or  round  the 
nuptial  bed,  or  handed  to  them  or  brought  into  contact  with  them  in  some 
other  way.  Rites,  such  as  the  accompaniment  of  the  bride  by  a  little  child, 
the  use  of  various  symbols  of  generation,  and  the  direct  offering  of  prayers 
and  sacrifices,  are  all  intended  to  make  the  union  fruitful.  The  breaking  of 
some  object  at  the  wedding  serves  to  avert  the  dangers  of  defloration  and 
to  facilitate  the  consummation  of  the  union.  The  undoing  of  knots  and 
laces,  found  in  many  wedding  rites,  makes  for  easy  delivery  at  childbirth. 
In  all  these  acts  we  see  the  ritual  expression  of  the  biological  nature  of 

As  an  official  and  public  recognition  of  a  biological  fact,  as  the  most 
important  contract  ever  entered  by  two  individuals,  and  as  the  act  which 
creates  a  new  social  entity,  the  family,  marriage  is  a  crisis.  Now  a  crisis 



in  human  life  is  always  surrounded  by  powerful  emotions:  forebodings 
and  hopes,  fears  and  joyful  anticipations.  Innumerable  wedding  rites  are  in 
existence  which  are  obviously  intended  to  remove  the  dangers  associated 
with  the  crisis  of  marriage. 

Dangers  apprehended  in  subjective  forebodings  are  usually  conceived  in 
the  form  of  evil  agencies:  demons  or  ghosts  or  malevolent  spirits,  forces  of 
black  magic,  mysterious  concatenations  of  ill-luck.  These  have  to  be  kept 
at  bay  or  counteracted,  and  we  find  innumerable  rites  intended  to  avert  ill 
fortune  and  bring  happiness  and  good  chance  to  the  new  household. 
Among  these  are  the  avoidance  of  certain  days  and  places  as  unlucky,  or 
on  the  other  hand  the  selection  of  certain  days  as  being  of  good  omen; 
the  shutting  out  of  evil  influences  from  the  place  where  the  wedding  is 
being  celebrated;  the  making  of  noises,  the  firing  or  brandishing  of  some 
v/eapon;  the  bathing  or  washing  of  bride  and  bridegroom  or  sprinkling 
them  with  water;  the  lighting  of  fires  and  waving  of  torches;  the  cir- 
cumambulation  of  the  bridegroom's  tent  or  of  the  church;  the  beating  of 
the  bridegroom's  tent,  and  the  observance  by  the  bride  and  bridegroom  of 
various  kinds  of  abstinences  with  regard  to  action  and  eating.  Other  forms 
in  which  bad  luck  can  be  side-tracked  are:  the  disguising  of  the  real  actors, 
who  may  dress  in  the  clothes  of  the  opposite  sex,  cover  themselves,  or  paint 
their  faces;  the  substitution  for  them  of  effigies;  marriage  by  proxy;  and 
the  contracting  of  mock  marriages  with  trees  or  animals  or  inanimate 
objects.  Finally  an  important  antidote  against  all  supernatural  dangers  is 
the  state  of  spiritual  invulnerability  which  is  achieved  by  moral  purity  and 
the  observance  of  those  mixed  ethical  and  ritual  rules  which  in  primitive 
culture  often  surround  important  acts  of  human  life.  The  most  important 
tabu  of  this  kind,  in  connection  with  marriage  is  obviously  the  tabu  of 
sex-continence.  The  principle  that  the  bride  and  the  bridegroom  have  to 
abstain  from  intercourse  for  some  time  after  the  wedding  is  known  all  over 
the  world  from  primitive  savagery  to  the  most  refined  ethics  of  the  Chris- 
tian church,  from  Australia  to  the  New  World, while  on  the  wedding 
night  there  are  occasionally  other  minor  abstinences. 

It  is  characteristic  that  while  the  bride  and  the  bridegroom  are  often 
considered  in  a  state  dangerous  not  only  to  themselves  but  also  to  others, 
they  are  at  the  same  time  a  source  of  blessing  and  of  beneficent  influences. 
Thus  certain  rites  are  supposed  to  influence  favourably  the  welfare  of  other 
persons  even  independently  of  their  relations  to  the  principals;  joining  in 
at  a  wedding  is  sometimes  believed  to  produce  benefit;  a  wedding  is  looked 
upon  as  a  potential  cause  of  other  weddings;  while  good  luck  is  often  ex- 
pected from  contact  with  the  bride  or  bridegroom  or  something  worn 
by  them. 

Marriage  is  a  crisis  not  merely  in  the  spiritual  sense.  It  is  also  an  actual 
sociological  transition  from  one  state  to  another,  both  partners  forsaking 
Cf.  E.  A.  Westermarck,  op.  cit.,  Vol.  II,  pp.  547-64. 



their  old  families  to  form  a  new  one.  The  rupture  with  the  parental  family, 
clan,  local  community  or  tribe  is  expressed  in  a  number  of  interesting 
wedding  rites.  Sham  fighting  between  the  bridegroom  or  his  party  and  the 
bride's  family,  or  some  other  kind  of  resistance  made  by  the  latter;  the 
barring  of  the  wedding  procession;  weeping  and  other  ritual  expressions  of 
grief  and  unwillingness  on  the  part  of  the  bride  and  her  relatives;  and  the 
mimic  enactment  of  capture  or  abduction  of  the  bride — these  are  mostly 
the  dramatic  expression  of  the  fact  that  the  bride  has  to  be  torn  from  her 
old  home,  that  this  is  a  violent  and  critical  act,  a  final  one. 

But  the  most  important  type  of  wedding  rite  is  that  which  lays  down 
that  marriage  is  a  sacramental  bond.  Here  again  the  symbolism  is  wide  and 
varied,  from  the  most  direct  expression  of  union  by  the  joining  of  hands 
or  of  fingers,  the  tying  of  garments,  the  exchange  of  rings  and  chains,  to 
complicated  dramatic  enactments  of  the  separation  and  union.  An  impor- 
tant symbohsm  of  the  new  ties  to  be  established  consists  in  the  per- 
formance of  some  act  which  in  future  will  constitute  one  of  the  normal 
duties  or  privileges  of  married  life.  Such  acts  in  a  way  define  the  nature 
and  exclusiveness  of  marriage  by  anticipation  in  ritual  performances. 
Among  them,  naturally  the  most  important  are  the  ceremonial  perform- 
ance of  the  sexual  act  and  the  ceremonial  participation  in  a  common  meal. 
In  certain  ceremonies  the  symbolism  lays  down  the  relative  domains  of 
marital  influence.  Thus  in  some  cases  the  assertion  of  the  husband's  power 
is  prominent:  he  is  presented  with  a  whip,  or  he  boxes  the  bride's  ears,  or 
mimically  beats  her,  and  so  on.  In  others  again  the  wife  may  attempt  by 
similar  acts  to  mark  her  independence  and  her  power  over  her  husband. 
The  economic  aspect  of  marriage  is  often  also  expressed  in  some  magical 
act,  intended  to  ensure  prosperity  to  the  future  household,  e.g.,  by  the 
smearing  of  butter  and  honey  by  the  bride  over  the  pole  of  the  tent  to 
ensure  abundance  of  staple  food.  Again,  the  division  of  economic  functions 
is  expressed  in  other  rites,  as  where  the  wife  tends  the  fire,  prepares  and 
cooks  food  for  her  husband,  etc. 

These  examples  cover  the  most  important  though  by  no  means  all  the 
ideas  expressed  in  wedding  rites.  It  is  easy  to  see  that  the  symbolism  is 
extremely  rich  and  varied,  and  that  it  embraces  almost  all  the  aspects  of 
marriage.  There  are  rites  which  bear  directly  upon  sex  and  upon  gestation; 
there  are  rites  with  a  clear  domestic  and  those  with  an  economic  signifi- 
cance; there  are  rites  referring  to  emotional  attitudes  at  marriage  and  to 
moral  ideas  as  to  its  ends.  In  technique  they  are  all  legal,  magical  or 
religious.  In  short,  the  ceremonial  of  marriage  covers  and  expresses  all  the 
relevant  sides  of  the  institution  of  marriage,  and  as  such  it  has  been  a  most 
fruitful  and  revelatory  subject  of  anthropological  study.  It  also  has  been 
the  main  source  of  errors  and  pitfalls. 

In  order  to  avoid  them  it  is  important  to  realise  that  all  ritual  symbolism 
is  necessarily  vague.  Speaking  of  the  marriage  ceremonies,  Professor 


Westermarck  rightly  lays  down  that  "Anthropologists  are  often  apt  to 
look  for  too  much  reasoning  at  the  bottom  of  primitive  customs.  Many  of 
them  are  based  on  vague  feelings  rather  than  on  definite  ideas."  The 
ritual  symbolism  at  marriage  also  expresses  as  a  rule  mixed  and  compound 
meanings  in  most  of  the  acts.  Thus  the  spilling  of  corn  over  the  couple 
may  mean  fecundity,  prosperity,  good  husbandry  as  well  as  union,  and 
probably  it  vaguely  expresses  all  these  elements.  Sham  fights  and  captures, 
tree  marriages  or  marriages  by  proxy  have  obviously  a  plurality  of 

Nor  is  the  function  of  symbolism  exhausted  by  its  direct  and  literal 
meaning.  A  ritual  act,  fixed  by  tradition,  defining  the  relevant  manner  of 
concluding  a  contract,  impresses  by  pomp  and  circumstance  its  social 
importance  and  its  binding  force  in  the  moral  sense.  The  ethical  rules  and 
tabus  which  usually  go  hand  in  hand  with  ritual  add  to  this  spiritualising 
function  of  wedding  ceremonies.  The  public  and  official  nature  of  the 
marriage  act,  often  marked  by  the  presence  of  an  officiating  priest,  ruler 
or  magician;  heralded  by  banns  and  public  announcements;  sealed  by 
witnesses  and  documents;  enhanced  by  the  sacredness  of  place  and  of  time 
constitutes  the  widest  and  most  general  function  of  the  rite,  and  that  is 
to  make  marriage  public,  binding,  sacred  and  morally  impressive. 

The  dissolution  of  vtarriage  in  ritual 

The  binding  forces  of  the  marriage  contract,  and  its  ritual  and  moral 
character,  are  expressed  as  clearly  at  the  dissolution  by  divorce  or  death 
as  at  its  inception.  Unfortunately  our  information  is  so  defective  on  this 
point  that  a  brief  survey  only  can  be  given. 

Divorce  in  higher  cultures  is  a  religious  matter,  to  be  carried  out  under 
the  supervision  of  the  church,  and  with  the  observance  of  certain  formali- 
ties which  express  and  safeguard  the  sanctity  of  the  sacrament.  From  lower 
cultures  we  find  only  a  few  examples  of  divorce  rites,  where  such  symbolic 
acts  as  the  breaking  of  a  rod,  the  tearing  of  a  leaf,  or  the  casting  away  of 
some  object  are  pubhcly  performed  (Kacharis,  Hajongs,  KJiasis  of  N.W. 
India;  Bagobo  of  Mindanao;  Tumbuka  of  C.  Africa;  certain  Canadian 
Indians;  Maori  of  New  Zealand). 

Far  more  material  is  at  our  disposal  referring  to  the  persistence  of  the 
matrimonial  bonds  at  death.  They  are  never  dissolved  automatically  by  the 
decease  of  either  partner,  and  their  tenacity  is  greater  for  the  widow  than 
for  the  widower.  But  in  either  case  the  death  of  one  consort  imposes  a 
number  of  ritual  and  moral  observances  on  the  other,  the  fulfilment  of 
which  is  an  essential  part  of  the  marriage  contract. 

The  widow,  or  widower,  usually  plays  the  most  prominent  part  among 
all  mourners.  Thus  among  certain  peoples  the  widow  has  to  perform 

^®  The  History  of  Human  Marriage,  Vol.  II,  p.  563. 



various  duties,  extending  over  a  more  or  less  considerable  period,  at  the 
grave  of  her  husband.  She  has  to  sleep  beside  or  over  it;  to  supply  it  with 
provisions;  to  keep  a  fire  burning  there  perpetually  (Takulli,  Kutchin, 
Mosquito,  Pima  Indians  of  America;  Minas,  Nsakara,  Baganda  of  Africa; 
Pentecost  Islanders  and  certain  Papuans  of  Oceania;  Kukis  of  India).  Even 
more  telling  are  the  long  series  of  tabus  and  duties  to  be  observed  by  the 
widow  before  she  is  allowed  to  rerqarry:  she  must  remain  chaste,  refrain 
from  bathing  or  renewing  her  garments,  avoid  certain  foods,  etc.  (Omaha, 
Stlathlumh,  Creek,  Chickasaw,  Algonkin,  Iroquois,  Dakota,  Eskimo  of 
N.  America;  Angoni,  Bakoba,  Baya,  Bawele,  Baganda,  Akamba,  Herero, 
BaThonga,  Zulu  of  Africa;  Amoor  tribes  and  Kukis  of  India;  Bontoc 
Igorot  of  the  Philippines;  Maori  of  New  Zealand;  Ainu,  Yakuts,  Kam- 
chadal  of  N.E.  Asia). 

Similar  regulations  prevent  the  widower  from  entering  into  a  new 
alliance  immediately  after  he  has  been  set  free  by  his  wife's  death.  Thus 
among  many  peoples  (Greenlanders,  Eskimo,  Aleut;  Dakota,  Omaha, 
Shawnee  of  N.  America;  Herero,  Bushmen,  BaThonga,  Zulu  of  Africa; 
certain  Papuan  tribes;  the  Bontoc  Igorots  and  the  Ainu)  the  surviving 
husband  has  to  live  single  for  a  time  during  which  he  is  subjected  to 
various  restrictions  and  observances,  such  as  refraining  from  sexual  inter- 

The  most  definite  affirmation  of  the  persistence  of  marital  bonds  is 
found  among  those  people  who  completely  forbid  remarriage  to  widows 
(Tikopians,  Rotumans,  Marquesans,  Line  Islanders  in  Polynesia;  Chinese; 
Ainu  of  Japan;  Formosans;  Brahmans  of  India)  or  to  widowers  (Ainu, 
Formosans,  Biduanda  Kallang  of  Malay  Peninsula). 

Even  this  is  overshadowed  by  the  institution  of  suttee^  the  sentence  of 
death  passed  by  religious  tradition  over  the  widow  at  her  husband's  death 
so  that  her  spirit  might  follow  his  into  the  next  world.  This  institution  is 
found  not  only  in  India,  from  where  we  have  borrowed  its  name,  but  also 
among  the  Comanche,  Cree  and  certain  Calif ornian  tribes  of  N.  America; 
in  Dahomey  and  among  the  BaFiote  of  Africa;  in  the  New  Hebrides,  Fiji> 
Solomon  Islands,  Pentecost  Island  and  New  Zealand  of  Oceania. 

The  social  conditions  of  marriage 

With  this  we  have  finished  the  analysis  of  the  various  aspects  of  marriage, 
biological,  domestic,  economic,  legal  and  religious.  It  will  be  necessary  still 
briefly  to  consider  marriage  in  relation  to  other  modes  of  grouping,  and  to 
discuss  certain  barriers  to  and  qualifications  for  matrimony,  connected 
with  membership  in  wider  groups. 

Marriage  is  never  free  in  the  sense  that  any  man  would  be  at  liberty  to 
marry  any  woman.  Natural  and  physical  impediments  obviously  do  not 
come  here  under  consideration,  since  we  are  only  concerned  with  social 



rules.  Thus  it  is  clear  that  in  order  to  marry,  two  people  must  come  into 
contact  with  each  other,  and  under  primitive  conditions  this  is  possible 
only  when  they  belong  to  the  same  tribe,  or  to  tribes  who  meet  in  peaceful 
commerce  or  in  warfare.  Tribal  or  natural  endogamy  is  thus  the  first  con- 
dition of  marriage,  but  it  is  of  secondary  interest  to  the  sociologist,  and 
must  be  distinguished  from  strict  endogamy. 

Endogamy  proper  is  the  rule  which  allows  marriage  only  between  mem- 
bers of  a  section  of  a  tribe  and  forbids  unions  between  members  of  two 
sections.  Strict  endogamy  is  rare.  It  occurs  mainly  in  India  where  members 
of  the  same  caste  only  are  allowed  to  marry.  In  other  parts  of  India  we  find 
a  system  called  hypergamy  in  which  a  man  is  allowed  to  marry  a  woman 
of  a  lower  section  in  his  caste.  He  may  also  marry  a  woman  of  the  same 
section  if  other  conditions  allow  this.  But  a  woman  may  not  marry  a  man 
of  a  lower  section  on  penalty  of  loss  of  status  of  her  whole  family.  In  some 
communities  there  is  competition  to  secure  husbands  of  high  sections. 

In  primitive  communities  endogamy  is  not  very  widespread.  It  occurs  in 
tribes  where  there  is  a  degraded  class  of  artisans  or  else  stratification  by 
rank  (Polynesia;  Korea,  Japan;  Trobriand  Islands  of  Melanesia;  Algonkin, 
Salish  of  N.  America;  Masai,  Banyankole,  Karanga  and  other  tribes  of 
E.  and  S.  Africa) .  In  such  cases  we  often  find  endogamy  in  what  might  be 
called  an  approximate  form.  Indeed  such  approximate  endogamy,  as  a 
tendency  to  marry  within  the  profession,  class  or  rank,  is,  as  an  unwritten 
law,  well-nigh  universal  in  primitive  and  civilised  communities. 

Another  type  of  endogamy  which  is  very  widespread  is  that  associated 
with  religion.  In  very  few  religions  is  marriage  outside  the  group  of  the 
faithful  permitted.  Islam,  Judaism,  Christianity  and  Hinduism  are  cases  in 
point.  Primitive  religion  as  a  rule  need  not  be  intolerant  as  regards  mixed 
marriages,  because  there  the  tribal  barriers  and  lack  of  communication  act 
with  sujSicient  stringency. 

The  prohibition  of  incest 

The  most  widely  spread  and  most  rigidly  enforced  qualification  to  marriage 
is  the  set  of  rules  which  prohibit  unions  between  the  members  of  the  same 
family.  These  are  known  as  the  rules  of  incest,  and  play  a  great  part  in 
the  constitution  of  the  family  and  in  the  regulation  of  primitive  kinship. 
Incest  has  become  also  of  great  importance  in  modern  psychology  through 
the  speculations  of  Freud  and  the  psychoanalytic  school. 

Although  incestuous  unions  between  near  relatives  are  universally 
abhorred  and  prohibited,  the  rules  differ  greatly  from  one  society  to 
another  as  regards  the  prohibited  degrees  as  well  as  the  stringency  and 
character  of  the  sanctions.  Marriages  between  mother  and  son  and  between 
father  and  daughter  are  universally  prohibited  by  law,  custom  and  moral 
sentiment.  Statements  can  be  quoted,  it  is  true,  of  tribes  among  whom 
more  or  less  irregular  unions  between  parents  and  children  do  occur.  Thus 


marriages  between  mother  and  son  have  been  reported  from  the  Caribs, 
Eskimo,  Pioje,  Tinne  of  America;  Minahassa  of  Celebes  and  Kalang  of 
Java;  New  Caledonians;  and  the  Banyoro  of  Africa.  Again  unions  between 
father  and  daughter  are  said  to  occur  among  the  Minahassa  of  Celebes, 
Karens  of  Burma,  and  in  the  Solomon,  Marshall  and  Pelew  Islands  of 
Oceania.  Even  better  attested  are  the  marriages  between  brother  and  sister 
(Marshall  Islands  and  Hawaii;  ancient  Irish,  Egyptian  and  Inca  royal 
families) . 

When  we  go  beyond  the  family  group,  the  prohibitions  of  marriage 
between  uncles  and  nieces,  aunts  and  nephews,  first  and  second  cousins, 
and  so  on,  vary  greatly.  In  some  communities  certain  of  these  unions  are 
explicitly  encouraged  and  regarded  as  desirable;  in  others  forbidden.  About 
preferential  marriages  between  relatives  we  have  already  spoken.  Extensive 
prohibitions  of  marriage  between  distant  kindred  exist,  besides  the  Western 
Christian  civilisations  also  among  a  number  of  other  tribes  and  cultures 
(Salish,  Eskimo,  Pipites  of  Salvador,  Aztecs,  Araucanians,  Abipones,  Ona, 
Yahgan  of  America;  Koryak,  Yukaghir,  Kalmuck  of  N.E.  Asia;  Torres 
Straits  Islanders,  Mekeo,  Polynesians  of  Oceania;  S.E.  Bantu  of  Africa). 


This  is  the  system  which  far  larger  groups  of  people  are  regarded  as 
related  to  each  other  and  their  members  forbidden  to  intermarry.  It  is 
found  mainly  in  association  with  the  classificatory  nomenclature  of  kinship 
terms  and  the  clan  organisation.  Whether  exogamy  is  genetically  connected 
with  incest,  i.e.,  whether  it  is  an  extension  of  the  tabu  on  intercourse  and 
marriage  within  the  family,  or  an  independent  institution,  is  a  debated 

Exogamy  embraces  the  widest  number  of  people,  where  it  is  based  on 
the  dual  organisation  and  debars  from  intercourse  or  marriage  one  half  of 
the  tribesmen  and  tribeswomen.  Normally  exogamy  is  an  attribute  of 
clan,  i.e.,  of  the  group  of  people  who  trace  their  descent  to  a  common 
ancestor,  have  in  most  cases  the  same  totem,  and  fulfill  a  number  of 
functions  together.  The  clans  are  sometimes  a  subdivision  of  the  tribe, 
based  numerically  on  the  dual  principle,  as  where  we  have  two,  four  or 
eight  clans.  At  times  there  is  an  odd  and  more  or  less  considerable  number 
of  clans,  and  exogamy  is  enforced  only  within  each  of  these  divisions.  The 
prohibitions  as  a  rule  apply  unilaterally  (Iroquois,  Huron,  Lenape,  Mohe- 
gan,  Miami,  Shawnee,  Creek,  Sauk,  Fox,  Kickapoo,  Blackfoot,  Dakota, 
Seminole  of  N.  America;  Arawak  and  Goajiro  of  S.  America;  Tungus, 
Yakut,  Samoyed,  Ostyak,  Tartars  of  N.E.  Asia;  various  aboriginal  peo- 
ples of  India;  Torres  Straits  Islanders,  Papuans,  Melanesians,  Polynesians 

"See  E.  A.  Westermarck,  op.  cit.,  Vol.  II,  pp.  192-218;  Sir  James  George  Frazer, 
Totemism  and  Exogamy,  1910,  Vol.  IV,  passim;  B.  Malinowski,  Sex  and  Repression  in 
Savage  Society,  1927,  Part  IV. 



and  Micronesians  of  Oceania;  Hottentot,  S.E.  Bantu,  Anyanja,  Wayao, 
Awemba,  Makololo,  Akonde,  Masai,  Akamba,  Baganda  and  other  E.  Af- 
rican tribes;  Ashanti  and  other  W.  African  tribes).  Only  in  a  few  cases 
has  exogamy  to  be  observed  with  regard  to  the  clans  of  both  parents 
(Omaha,  Osage  of  N.  America;  certain  Naga  tribes  of  Assam;  S.  Massim 
of  Melanesia,  Herero,  Lango  of  Africa). 

A  specially  complex  set  of  conditions  prevails  in  the  tribes  of  C.  Aus- 
tralia, where  there  is  a  twofold  division  into  (a)  totemic  clans,  which  are 
not  strictly  exogamous;  and  (b)  matrimonial  classes,  which  strictly  cor- 
respond to  kinship  divisions,  and  which  are  not  only  exogamous,  but 
regulate  marriage  to  the  extent  that  a  member  of  one  of  them  has  to  marry 
into  one  and  one  only  of  the  remaining  three  or  seven  classes,  as  the  case 
may  be. 

The  forms  of  marriage 

From  the  foregoing  description  it  will  be  clear  that  there  is  a  considerable 
range  within  which  the  constitution  of  marriage  can  vary.  For  as  we  have 
seen  there  can  be  many  different  arrangements  in  the  domestic,  legal, 
economic  and  ceremonial  sides  of  marriage,  and  each  of  their  manifold 
combinations  constitutes  a  distinct  form  of  marriage. 

The  term  ''form  of  marriage"  has  been  as  a  rule  applied  to  what  might 
be  called  the  numeric  variation  in  marriage,  i.e.,  the  variation  according  to 
the  number  of  consorts  united  to  each  other;  and  the  main  *'forms  of 
marriage"  usually  listed  are  monogamy,  polygyny,  polyandry  and  group- 
marriage.  To  deal  with  this  classification  adequately  it  is  necessary  to 
distinguish  hypothetical  assumptions  from  actually  existing  social  arrange- 
ments. From  this  point  of  view  we  can  at  once  eliminate  "group- 
marriage,"  since  our  previous  analysis  has  shown  that  the  pirratiru  relation- 
ship of  Australia  and  similar  institutions  among  the  Eskimo  and  in  Siberia 
can  not  in  their  parental,  economic,  legal  or  religious  functions  be  regarded 
as  a  form  of  marriage. 


This  is  the  name  given  to  a  union  in  which  several  men  are  legally  bound 
in  marriage  to  one  woman.  Polyandry  is  the  rarest  of  the  numeric  varieties 
of  marriage,  and  unfortunately  the  one  on  which,  in  spite  of  its  great 
theoretical  importance,  we  possess  but  very  mieagre  and  inadequate  infor- 
mation. Polyandry  is  not  found  among  any  of  the  more  primitive  peoples, 
and  its  distribution  is  almost  completely  confined  to  the  highlands  of 
S.  India  and  C.  Asia,  with  isolated  exceptions,  such  as  one  African  tribe 
(Bahima)  and  some  Eskimo,  among  whom  it  occurs,  but  infrequently. 

In  Tibet  and  the  adjacent  countries  there  exists  polyandry  of  the 
fraternal  type,  i.e.,  several  brothers  share  the  wife  in  common.  All  the 
husbands  live  together  with  their  common  wife  as  members  of  the  same 



household,  and  cohabit  successively  with  her.  Children  born  of  these  mar- 
riages are  sometimes  regarded  as  the  legal  descendants  of  the  eldest  brother- 
husband  only;  in  other  cases  it  appears  that  when  a  child  is  born  it  is 
attributed  to  him  by  whom  the  mother  asserts  that  she  has  conceived  it. 

Among  the  Nayars  of  S.W.  India  there  is  a  so-called  form  of  polyandry 
which  has  played  an  important  though  rather  deceptive  part  in  the  theories 
of  marriage.  A  girl  goes  through  a  form  of  marriage  with  a  man,  but  then 
really  consorts  with  a  number  of  men  who  need  not  be  related  to  one 
another.  She  lives  apart  from  her  partners,  who  cohabit  with  her  suc- 
cessively by  agreement  among  themselves.  Owing  to  the  matrilincal  insti- 
tutions of  this  people,  the  children  of  such  marriages  inherit  from  their 
mother's  brother,  but  the  social  importance  of  fatherhood  is  seen  in  the 
fact  that  the  woman,  when  pregnant,  always  nominates  one  or  other  of 
the  men  as  the  father  of  the  child,  and  he  is  obliged  to  provide  for  it  and 
to  educate  it. 

Another  account  is  that  by  Dr.  Rivers,  of  the  Toda  polyandry,  which 
can  be  taken  as  the  representative  of  the  simpler  type  of  this  institution 
in  S.  India.  Among  the  Toda,  several  men,  usually  two  or  three  brothers, 
share  the  wife,  but  it  is  the  rule  that  they  cohabit  with  her  in  succession. 
Again,  the  children  are  not  owned  in  common  by  the  husbands,  but  each 
child  is  allotted  individually  to  one,  not  with  reference  to  any  presumption 
of  physical  paternity,  but  in  virtue  of  a  ritual  act  performed  by  the  man 
over  the  child,  an  act  which  establishes  social  paternity  and  confers  legiti- 
mate descent  on  the  child. 

Polyandry  is  thus  a  compound  marriage,  in  which  cohabitation  is  usu- 
ally successive,  and  not  joint,  while  children  and  property  are  not  shared 
by  the  husbands. 


This  is  a  form  of  marriage  in  which  several  wives  are  united  to  one  man, 
each  having  the  status  of  legal  consort,  while  her  offspring  are  regarded 
as  the  legal  descendants  of  the  husband.  As  an  institution  polygyny  exists 
in  all  parts  of  the  world.  There  are  very  few  primitive  tribes  about  whom 
we  are  informed  that  a  man  is  not  allowed,  if  he  can,  to  enter  into  more 
than  one  union.  Many  peoples  have  been  said  to  be  monogamous,  but  it  is 
difficult  to  infer  from  the  data  at  our  disposal  whether  monogamy  is  the 
prevalent  practice,  the  moral  ideal,  or  an  institution  safeguarded  by  sanc- 
tions. It  must  be  remembered  at  once  that  polygyny  is  never  practised 
throughout  the  community:  there  cannot  exist  a  community  in  which 
every  man  would  have  several  wives,  since  this  would  entail  an  enormous 
surplus  of  females  over  males. -"^^  The  second  important  point  with  regard 
to  polygyny,  which  is  seldom  brought  out  clearly,  is  that  in  reality  it  is 

"  Cf.  however  the  important  contribution  to  this  subject  by  G.  Pitt-Rivers,  The  Clash 
of  Culture  and  the  Contact  of  Races,  1927. 



not  so  much  a  form  of  marriage  fundamentally  distinct  from  monogamy 
as  rather  a  multiple  monogamy.  It  is  always  in  fact  the  repetition  of  a 
marriage  contract,  entered  individually  with  each  wife,  establishing  an 
individual  relationship  between  the  man  and  each  of  his  consorts.  As  a 
rule  each  relationship  is  little  affected  legally  or  economically  by  the  others. 

Where  each  wife  has  her  separate  household  and  the  husband  visits  them 
in  turn,  polygynous  marriage  resembles  very  closely  a  temporarily  inter- 
rupted monogamy.  In  such  cases  there  is  a  series  of  individual  marriages  in 
which  domestic  arrangements,  economics,  parenthood  as  well  as  legal  and 
religious  elements  do  not  as  a  rule  seriously  encroach  on  each  other.  The 
polygyny  with  separate  households  is  more  universally  prevalent.  Among 
the  great  majority  of  the  Bantu  and  Hamitic  peoples  of  Africa,  where 
the  number  of  wives,  especially  in  the  case  of  chiefs,  is  often  considerable, 
each  wife  commonly  occupies  a  separate  hut  with  her  children,  and 
manages  an  independent  household  with  well-defined  legal  and  economic 
rights.  Where,  on  the  other  hand,  as  among  many  N.  American  tribes,  two 
or  more  wives  share  the  same  household,  polygyny  affects  the  institution 
of  matrimonial  life  much  more  deeply. 

In  most  cases  the  motive  for  polygyny  is  economic  and  political.  Thus 
in  the  Trobriand  Islands  (Melanesia)  the  chief's  income  is  due  to  his 
wives'  annual  endowment.  In  many  African  communities  the  chief  derives 
his  wealth  from  the  plurality  of  his  wives,  who  by  means  of  the  produce 
of  their  agricultural  labour  enable  him  to  exercise  the  lavish  hospitality 
upon  which  so  much  of  his  power  rests.  A  multitude  of  wives,  however, 
may  increase  not  only  a  man's  wealth  but  also  his  social  importance,  repu- 
tation and  authority,  apart  from  the  influence  of  the  number  of  his 
children.  Hence  we  find  in  many  Bantu  communities  of  Africa  that  the 
desire  to  have  many  wives  is  one  of  the  leading  motives  in  the  life  of  every 
man;  while  the  fact  that  in  many  Melanesian  and  Polynesian  communities 
polygyny  is  a  prerogative  of  the  chief  testifies  to  the  social  prestige 
attaching  to  it. 


Monogamy  is  not  only  the  most  important  form  of  marriage,  not  only  that 
which  predominates  in  most  communities,  and  which  occurs,  statistically 
speaking,  in  an  overwhelming  majority  of  instances,  but  it  is  also  the 
pattern  and  prototype  of  marriage. 

Both  polyandry  and  polygyny  are  compound  marriages  consisting  of 
several  unions  combined  into  a  larger  system,  but  each  of  them  constituted 
upon  the  pattern  of  a  monogamous  marriage.  As  a  rule  polygamous  cohabi- 
tation is  a  successive  monogamy  and  not  joint  domesticity;  children  and 
property  are  divided,  and  in  every  other  respect  the  contracts  are  entered 
individually  between  two  partners  at  a  time. 

Monogamy  as  the  unique  and  exclusive  form  of  marriage,  in  the  sense 



that  bigamy  is  regarded  as  a  grave  criminal  offence  and  a  sin  as  well  as  a 
sacrilege,  is  very  rare  indeed.  Such  an  exclusive  ideal  and  such  a  rigid  legal 
view  of  marriage  is  perhaps  not  to  be  found  outside  the  modern,  relatively 
recent  development  of  Western  Culture.  It  is  not  implied  in  Christian 
doctrine  even.  Apart  from  such  isolated  phenomena  as  the  recent  Church 
of  Latter  Day  Saints  (Mormons)  and  the  heretical  sect  of  Anabaptists 
(16th  century),  polygyny  was  legally  practised  and  accepted  by  the 
Church  in  the  middle  ages,  and  it  occurs  sporadically  as  a  legal  institu- 
tion accepted  by  Church  and  State  as  recently  as  the  middle  of  the  17th 

Monogamy  as  pattern  and  prototype  of  human  marriage,  on  the  other 
hand,  is  universal.  The  whole  institution,  in  its  sexual,  parental,  economic, 
legal  and  religious  aspects,  is  founded  on  the  fact  that  the  real  function 
of  marriage — sexual  union,  production  and  care  of  children,  and  the 
co-operation  which  it  implies — requires  essentially  two  people,  and  two 
people  only,  and  that  in  the  overwhelming  majority  of  cases  two  people 
only  are  united  in  order  to  fulfil  these  facts. 

Conjugation  necessarily  takes  place  only  between  two  organisms; 
children  are  produced  by  two  parents  only,  and  always  socially  regarded 
as  the  offspring  of  one  couple;  the  economics  of  the  household  are  never 
conducted  group- wise;  the  legal  contract  is  never  entered  upon  jointly; 
the  religious  sanction  is  given  only  to  the  union  of  two.  A  form  of  mar- 
riage based  on  communism  in  sex,  joint  parenthood,  domesticity,  group- 
contract  and  a  promiscuous  sacrament  has  never  been  described.  Mo- 
nogamy is,  has  been  and  will  remain  the  only  true  type  of  marriage.  To 
place  polygyny  and  polyandry  as  "forms  of  marriage"  co-ordinate  with 
monogamy  is  erroneous.  To  speak  about  "group-marriage"  as  another 
variety  shows  a  complete  lack  of  understanding  as  to  the  nature  of 

Theories  of  marriage 

The  last  conclusions  reveal  once  more  the  important  truth  of  scientific 
method  that  a  full  knowledge  of  facts  cuts  the  ground  from  under  most 
hypothetical  speculations.  The  theories  of  human  marriage  have  mainly 
been  concerned  with  its  "origins"  and  "history,"  and  attempts  were  made 
at  ranging  the  various  "forms  of  marriage"  into  an  evolutionary  series. 
Once  we  come  to  recognise  that  marriage  is  fundamentally  one,  and  that 
its  varieties  correspond  not  to  stages  of  evolution,  but  are  determined  by 
the  type  of  community,  its  economic  and  political  organisation,  and  the 
character  of  its  material  culture,  the  problem  becomes  one  of  observation 
and  sociological  analysis,  and  ceases  to  move  on  the  shppery  plane  of 

The  view  that  marriage  originated  in  "promiscuity,"  "hetairism"  or 
"  Westermarck,  op.  cit.,  Vol.  Ill,  pp.  50-1. 



"matrimonial  communism,"  and  that  monogamy  is  a  product  of  gradual 
development  through  a  multitude  of  stages,  has  been  advanced  by 
Bachofen,  Morgan  and  McLennan;  has  found  wholehearted  or  partial  sup- 
port by  a  number  of  eminent  writers  (Lord  Avebury,  [Mrs.  Margaret] 
Fison,  Howitt,  [E.  B.]  Tylor,  Spencer  and  Gillen,  [Albert  Hermann] 
Post,  [Wolfgang]  Kohler,  [Maxime]  Kovalevsky,  Lippert,  Schurtz,  Frazer 
and  others) ;  and  has  been  criticised  and  combated  by  [Charles  R.] 
Darwin,  Westermarck,  [Andrew]  Lang,  Grosse  and  Crawley. 

The  writings  of  [Lewis  H.]  Morgan's  school  suffer  from  an  over- 
emphasis of  the  sexual  aspect,  often  coupled  with  prudish  reticences;  from 
a  misinterpretation  of  linguistic  evidence;  from  a  neglect  of  the  parental 
and  economic  aspect  of  marriage.  They  are  full  of  fantastic  and  meaning- 
less concepts  such  as  "promiscuity,"  "group-marriage,"  "primitive  com- 
munism," which  as  a  rule  are  not  even  laid  down  with  sufficient  concrete 
details  to  give  hold  to  our  imagination  and  remain  mere  words  on  paper. 
The  German  writers  of  this  school,  who  have  contributed  a  voluminous 
output,  especially  in  the  Zeitschrift  fiir  vergleichende  Rechtswissenschaff, 
have  certainly  not  neglected  the  legal  side  of  marriage,  but  in  applying  to 
primitive  societies  the  dry  legal  formalism  of  modern  jurisprudence,  and 
in  ruthlessly  forcing  all  facts  into  the  cut  and  dried  scheme  of  "marriage 
stages,"  they  have  contributed  but  little  which  will  have  lasting  value- 

The  recent  advocates  of  Morgan's  and  Bachofen's  view,  notably 
[W.  G.]  Sumner,  Rivers,  [A.  G.]  Keller,  Briffault,  have  given  a  much 
better  and  more  concrete  outline  of  the  hypothetical  early  stages  of  mar- 
riage. But  even  this  last  stand  of  the  "group-marriage"  theory  is  based  on 
an  inadequate  analysis  of  the  institution  and  an  unwarranted  assumption 
of  early  sexual  and  economic  communism  as  well  as  of  group-motherhood. 

Modern  theories  of  marriage  follow  closely  the  lead  of  Darwin  on  the 
biological  side,  of  Westermarck  in  his  sociological  analysis,  and  of  Crawley 
in  some  of  his  psychological  suggestions.  Such  writers  as  [R.  H.]  Lowie, 
[Alfred  L.]  Kroeber  and  Howard  in  America;  [Richard]  Thurnwald, 
W.  Schmidt  and  Koppers  in  Germany;  A.  R.  Brown,  Malinowski,  and 
Pitt-Rivers  in  Great  Britain,  both  in  their  theories  and  in  their  field  work 
show  a  far  greater  interest  in  the  sociological  analysis  of  marriage,  in  its 
relation  to  the  family,  in  the  correlation  of  its  aspects,  in  the  sociological 
working  of  sexual  customs,  whether  these  be  tabus,  relaxations  or  excesses, 
in  their  reference  to  marriage. 

Some  new  light  on  marriage  has  been  thrown  by  those  psychoanalysts, 
notably  J.  C.  Fliigel,  who  are  prepared  to  give  serious  consideration  to 
facts  in  their  bearing  upon  the  Freudian  doctrine.  Finally  important  con- 
tributions to  the  theory  of  marriage  have  been  made  by  those  students 
who  approach  the  problem  in  its  practical  applications:  the  eugenists: 
students  of  population;  and  scientific  aspects  of  social  hygiene. 



Marriage  like  most  problems  of  anthropology  is  ceasing  to  be  a  subject 
of  speculation  and  becoming  one  of  empirical  research. 


Leathlcy,  S.  A.,  The  History  of  Marriage  and  Divorce,  1916. 
Goeller,  E.,  Das  Eherecht  im  neuen  kirchlichen  Gesetzbuch,  1918. 
Shukri,  Ahmad,  Muhammadan  Law  of  Marriage  and  Divorce,  1917. 
Vandyopadhyaya,  Sir  Gurudasa,  The  Hindu  Law  of  Marriage  and  Stridhana, 

Granet,  M.,  La  polygynie  sororate  et  le  sororat  dans  la  Chine  feodale,  1920. 
Vergette,  E.  D.,  Certain  Marriage  Customs  of  some  of  the  Tribes  in  the  Pro- 
tectorate of  Sierra  Leone,  1917. 
Howitt,  A.  W.,  The  Native  Tribes  of  South-East  Australia,  1904. 
Spencer,  B.,  and  Gillen,  F.  J.,  The  Arunta,  1927. 

Spencer,  B.,  The  Native  Tribes  of  the  Northern  Territory  of  Australia,  1914. 
Frazer,  J.  G.,  Totemism  and  Exogamy,  1910. 

Thomas,  N.  W.,  Kinship  Organization  and  Group  Marriage  in  Australia,  1906. 

"Westermarck,  E.  A.,  The  History  of  Human  Marriage,  3  vols.,  1921. 

Schoeffer,  S.,  Das  Eheproblem,  1922. 

Iwasaki,  K.,  Das  japanische  Eherecht,  1904. 

Westermarck,  E.  A.,  Les  ceremonies  du  mariage  au  Maroc,  1921. 

iiiiiiii  2  iiiiiiiiiiiiiiim 


The  family,  that  is  the  group  consisting  of  mother,  father  and  children, 
has  been  and  to  a  large  extent  still  remains  the  main  educational  agency 
of  mankind.  This  is  the  verdict  of  sound  modern  anthropology,  this  is  the 
knowledge  derived  from  history  and  dictated  by  common  sense. 

Ancestor  worship,  the  command  to  **honour  thy  father  and  thy  mother,'* 
the  cult  of  a  God  the  Father  and  of  a  Mother  Goddess,  have  been  the 
corner  stones  of  most  human  religions.  The  modern  scientific  student  of 
genetics  is  inclined  to  judge  the  quality  of  the  offspring  by  that  of  the 
parents.  The  contemporary  sociologist  counts  cultural  inheritance  and 
home  influences  as  the  dominant  factors  in  the  shaping  of  human  charac- 
ter. Psycho-analysis  with  its  stress  on  the  "domestic  complex,"  that  is  the 
memories  derived  from  the  early  contact  between  the  child  and  its  parents, 
and  Behaviourism,  with  its  assertion  that  "conditioning"  matters  more 
than  endowment,  also  imply  that  the  influences  of  the  domestic  setting 
must  be  dominant  in  education. 

At  present,  however,  the  family  is  being  seriously  threatened  and  its 
future  searchingly  questioned.  "The  family  is  going  to  disappear  within 
the  next  fifty  years";  "sex  is  now  used  for  recreation  and  not  for  procrea- 
tion"; "family  life  is  obviously  a  study  in  lunacy" — such  statements  could 
be  multipHed  from  modern  sociological  and  pseudo-psychological  literature. 
The  type  of  reproduction  and  education  outlined  by  Aldous  Huxley,  as  a 

*  A  fuller  documentation  of  the  anthropological  views  here  summarised  will 
be  found  in  the  articles  s.v.  ^'Marriage"  [see  Chapt.  1  of  Sex,  Culture,  and 
Myth],  "Kinship"  [see  Chapt.  6],  and  "Social  Anthropology"  in  the  14th 
Edition  of  the  Encyclopedia  Britannica;  the  article  s.v.  "Culture"  in  the 
Encyclopaedia  of  Social  Sciences  {New  York) ;  also  in  the  article  "Parenthood — 
The  Basis  of  Social  Structure"  [see  Chapt.  3]. 

This  article  appeared  in  November  1934  {Vol.  XV),  pp.  203-06  of  The  New 
Era  in  Home  and  School,  the  monthly  magazine  of  The  New  Education  Fellow- 
ship, 9,  The  Butts,  Bratton,  Westbury,  Wilts.,  England,  and  is  reprinted  by  per- 



satire,  in  his  Brave  New  World,  has  been  seriously  propounded  by  some 
writers  whose  authority  is  not  altogether  negligible. 

There  is  no  doubt  that  some  of  the  dominant  intellectual  trends  of  our 
day  have  exercised  a  corroding  influence  on  the  stability  of  marriage  and 
the  family,  notably,  Psycho-Analysis,  Behaviourism,  some  advocacies  of 
"sex  communism"  and  of  the  extreme  hedonistic  point  of  view.  Some  overt 
legislative  attacks  against  marriage  and  the  family,  mainly  in  Soviet  Russia, 
seem  also  seriously  to  threaten  the  future  of  the  domestic  institutions. 
The  most  important,  however,  are  those  influences  which  go  beyond  aca- 
demic attack  or  clumsy  legislative  encroachment,  which  are  insidious, 
inevitable,  and  pervading  at  the  same  time.  I  mean  such  facts  as  the  tech- 
nique of  contraception,  the  growing  financial,  hence  also  legal  and  moral, 
independence  of  woman,  and  the  fact  that  the  household  is  rapidly  ceas- 
ing to  be  a  profitable  economic  enterprise,  or  even  a  convenient  place  for 
the  joint  existence  of  the  family. 

The  modern  woman  does  not  need  the  cloak  of  marriage  in  order  to 
satisfy  her  sexual  life;  modern  man  does  not  need  to  resort  to  prostitution 
nor  clandestine  intrigue.  Each  can  earn  his  or  her  own  living,  can  play  a 
role  in  public  and  political  life,  can  move  about  independently  and  need 
not  marry  when  he  wants  occasionally  to  mate.  Should  there  be  even  a 
child,  it  is  possible  with  the  modern  ease  in  transport  and  anonymous  reap- 
pearance somewhere  else,  to  slip  away  and  eventually  to  hand  the  child  over 
to  be  brought  up  in  some  sort  of  communal  nursery,  kindergarten  and 
then  school.  With  most  incentives  gone,  with  the  advantages  of  marriage 
fading  away  and  the  hardships  of  home  life  increasing,  one  often  wonders 
not  that  marriage  is  affected,  but  that  people  still  marry  and  bring  forth 
families,  that  after  divorce  they  remarry — in  short  that  humanity  still 
reproduces  mainly  in  the  old-fashioned  manner. 

It  is  at  this  point  that  the  modern  anthropologist  who  studies  the  past 
of  human  history  in  order  to  obtain  an  insight  into  the  future  can  offer  an 
explanation  as  well  as  some  indications  of  development. 

The  anthropologist  himself,  in  fact,  has  been  confused  in  his  theoretical 
work  by  a  number  of  factors  such  as  primitive  mother-right,  the  sexual 
freedom  of  savages,  the  importance  of  the  clan,  tribe  or  horde  and  its  en- 
croachment on  the  family — factors  which  closely  resemble  the  modern 
snags  of  domestic  life.  There  was  a  time  when  anthropology  despaired  of 
the  existence  of  the  family  in  the  past,  even  as  sociologists  nowadays 
despair  of  the  family  in  the  future.  We  had  the  famous  theories  of  primi- 
tive promiscuity,  of  group  marriage,  of  early  matriarchy,  and  of  the 
gradual  and  painful  evolution  towards  monogamy  and  family. 

These  views  which  still  have  a  wide  currency  in  popular  and  pseudo- 
scientific  literature  have  been  now  definitely  discarded  by  professional 
anthropologists.  The  change  has  come  through  a  better  knowledge  of  facts. 
Reports  about  the  existence  of  so-called  group  marriage  in  Central  Aus- 



tralia,  in  Siberia,  or  New  Guinea,  have  been  recently  found  to  be  incorrect. 
With  the  fuller  knowledge  of  facts  and  the  changing  outlook  we  have 
arrived  also  at  more  precise  concepts  and  different  methods  of  approach. 
We  no  longer  glibly  speak  about  "sexual  communism,"  "group  marriage," 
"primitive  matriarchy"  and  the  "clan  as  a  reproductive  unit."  The  modern 
anthropologist  is  no  longer  busy  dissecting  the  various  aspects  of  the  family 
and  marriage  into  "promiscuity,"  "marriage  by  purchase,"  "patriarchy" 
and  so  on,  and  then  projecting  such  self-contained  entities  on  an  evolu- 
tionary line.  The  competent  observer  has  discovered  that  "father-right" 
and  "mother-right"  exist  side  by  side,  that  marriage  is  compatible  with 
pre-nuptial  laxity,  that  the  clan  and  family  instead  of  excluding,  comple- 
ment each  other.  In  fact,  through  all  variations  the  most  stable  units  which 
are  found  everywhere  are  the  family  and  individual  marriage. 

An  entirely  different  problem  therefore  has  emerged  for  a  modern 
anthropologist.  It  is  no  longer  the  question  of  deciding  whether  the  family 
or  individual  marriage  has  superseded  or  followed  the  clan,  whether  early 
representatives  of  the  human  species  were  entirely  promiscuous  or  highly 
virtuous,  whether  mother-right  precedes  patriarchy  or  vice  versa.  The 
problem  for  the  modern  anthropologists  is  rather  to  show  the  relation  of 
these  different  social  groups,  agencies  and  institutions. 

Let  us  take  as  an  example  the  question  of  sexual  morality.  The  distinc- 
tion embodied  in  the  modern  slogan  "sex  for  recreation  and  not  for  pro- 
creation" has  been  drawn  by  most  savages — drawn,  enforced  and  institu- 
tionalized. If  we  were  to  divide  the  lowest  savages  into  Primitive  Puritans 
and  Early  Hedonists,  the  former — the  Veddas  of  Ceylon,  the  Orang  Kubu 
of  Sumatra,  the  Yahgan  of  Tierra  del  Fuego — look  at  matters  in  a  way  on 
which  from  the  "moral"  point  of  view  even  Queen  Victoria  herself  could 
not  improve.  Every  one  of  them  regards  with  horror  any  lapse  of  an  un- 
married girl,  with  disfavour  any  libertinage  on  the  part  of  an  unmarried 
boy,  and  they  are  very  much  shocked  by  the  very  mention  of  adultery. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  central  Australian  as  well  as  the  typical  Bantu 
and  Polynesian,  the  Papuan  or  the  Sudanese,  takes  a  different  view.  Free 
love  making  is  allowed,  at  times  there  are  restrictions  and  definitions  on 
the  type  of  erotic  satisfaction  which  can  be  found  in  the  company  of  the 
other  sex.  But  one  rule  is  always  precise  and  often  extremely  stringent: 
there  must  be  no  pregnancy  without  marriage.  The  punishment  for  trans- 
gression is  sometimes  severe  to  the  extent  of  public  and  cruel  execution  of 
both  culprits.  Among  the  Djagga — who  belong  to  the  Bantu  tribes  prac- 
tising female  circumcision — I  was  told  blood-curdling  tales  of  how  such 
executions  were  actually  carried  out  in  the  olden  days. 

In  most  tribes,  however,  some  speedy  and  easy  remedy  is  found:  im- 
mediate marriage  is  enforced  after  pregnancy  has  taken  place;  or  a  com- 
pensation is  demanded  from  the  man,  which  makes  the  girl  more  desirable; 
or  in  some  cases  where  children  are  the  main  asset  of  marriage,  the  man 

THE  family:  past  and  present 


himself  marries  the  girl  of  his  own  free  will  as  a  reward  rather  than  as 
a  penalty. 

This  example  shows  that  it  is  futile  to  discuss  pre-nuptial  licence  with- 
out reference  to  the  institution  of  marriage.  A  more  detailed  analysis — for 
which  some  material  will  be  found  in  the  articles  quoted — shows  that 
marriage  in  all  human  societies  is  the  licencing  of  parenthood  rather  than 
of  sexual  intercourse.  Marriage  affects  the  course  of  sexual  life  very  pro- 
foundly. In  fact,  pre-nuptial  intercourse  almost  everywhere  is  not  an  end 
in  itself  but  rather  a  form  of  trial  union,  a  method  of  courtship,  a  means 
of  experimenting  in  the  possibilities  of  marriage. 

If  this  view  be  correct,  we  can  say  that  even  a  considerable  relaxation  in 
sexual  conduct  does  not  need  to  affect  profoundly  the  institution  of  mar- 
riage and  the  family.  It  also  proves  that  the  key  to  the  problem  does  not 
lie  in  the  study  of  the  sexual  impulse  detached  from  its  wider  context  of 
personal  relations  and  of  parenthood.  We  can  say  that  the  desire  on  the 
part  of  the  woman  to  have  children  with  the  right  man,  and  the  realiza- 
tion by  the  male  that  only  as  a  father  can  he  reach  full  tribal  status  and 
influence,  lead  to  marriage  and  the  establishment  of  a  household. 

Thus,  even  as  it  is  futile  to  study  the  sexual  impulse  without  under- 
standing its  psychological  context  of  personal  relations  between  man  and 
woman,  so  also  it  will  always  remain  irrelevant  to  study  marriage  as  a 
personal  relationship  without  investigating  its  role  in  tribal  life.  Without 
personifying  society  we  can  say  that  everywhere  tribal  tradition  puts  a 
premium  on  effective  and  successful  parenthood.  In  societies  like  those  of 
Africa  where  the  core  of  religion  is  ancestor-worship,  a  man  who  dies  with- 
out male  issue  passes  into  oblivion,  while  during  his  life  he  remains  without 
real  influence  in  the  tribe.  Female  issue  is  equally  desirable  in  societies 
where  the  bride  price  is  one  of  the  fundamental  legal  institutions.  The 
whole  legal  and  economic  constitution  of  a  typical  Bantu  tribe,  of  a 
Polynesian  or  Malayan  society,  is  associated  with  the  principle  that  it  is 
economically  advantageous,  morally  desirable  and  socially  honourable  for 
a  man  to  be  the  father  of  many  children  and  for  the  woman  to  be  a 
mother  of  both  sons  and  daughters.  The  strength  of  some  more  highly 
developed  communities,  notably  the  Chinese,  the  Semites,  and  the  Indians, 
is  associated  with  the  same  social  and  moral  forces. 

Turning  now  to  another  aspect,  there  is  no  doubt  that  at  present  many 
economic  forces  work  against  the  family,  and  that  the  State,  even  in 
such  of  its  forms  as  profess  to  favour  marriage  and  the  family,  works 
against  it.  This  is  very  different  from  what  obtains  under  more  primitive 
conditions.  Take  a  typical  Bantu:  he  marries  because  he  wants  children, 
but  also  largely  because  without  a  wife  he  cannot  set  up  a  household  and 
cannot  cultivate  his  fields.  For  this  is  a  joint  man's  and  woman's  work. 
His  wife  will  provide  for  him  his  domestic  comforts.  She  will  cultivate 
his  gardens  and  prepare  his  food.  The  children  also,  even  while  they  are 



being  educated  in  tribal  matters,  work  with  him  and  work  for  him.  In 
his  old  age  he  entirely  depends  on  his  children  who  by  tribal  law  and 
morality  have  to  support  him. 

If  instead  of  taking  an  African  Bantu,  we  were  to  pass  to  any  other 
native  community  or  dwell  on  the  old  order  of  things  in  China,  we  would 
find  exactly  the  same  conditions.  And  let  me  add  at  once,  the  study  of 
primitive  religion,  customary  law,  and  early  morality  would  show  that 
all  the  forces  combine  to  make  wealth  in  children,  that  is  a  strong  family 
and  a  large  family,  the  greatest  asset  to  man  and  woman. 

Here  modern  conditions  are  certainly  more  alarming  than  those  dis- 
cussed in  connection  with  the  sexual  aspect.  In  the  large  towns  and  among 
industrial  workers  to-day,  the  self-contained  household  is  no  more  an 
inevitable  necessity.  It  is  even  less  so  among  the  middle  class.  In  the 
modern  life  of  big  cities,  what  with  the  difficulty  of  domestic  service,  the 
ease  of  obtaining  food  and  help  in  service  flats,  the  life  of  a  household 
seems  to  be  disintegrating.  The  family  is  rapidly  ceasing  to  be  a  group 
based  on  joint  production,  or  even  on  joint  consumption  of  goods.  The 
economic  advantages  for  a  man  or  woman  to  marry  are  negligible  com- 
pared with  the  inducements  of  a  Bantu  or  Oceanic  or  a  Chinese  peasant. 

The  crushing  death  duties  now  imposed  by  most  States,  above  all  in 
Great  Britain,  have  already  disintegrated  the  economic  continuity  of 
lineage.  Modern  taxation,  with  the  insignificant  advantages  given  to  large 
fam.ilies,  works  essentially  against  and  not  for  the  family.  In  addressing 
educationalists  one  can  point  out  a  characteristic  detail:  the  fact  that 
married  women  in  many  countries  are  deprived  of  any  chance  of  obtain- 
ing teaching  posts  in  State  schools.  Marriage  here  as  in  many  professions 
becomes  a  liability,  and  motherhood  a  stumbling  block  to  a  woman's 
career.  A  full  analysis  would  show  that  not  only  do  modern  economic 
and  technical  conditions  work  against  the  family,  but  that  the  State  in- 
stead of  assisting  the  family  very  often  militates  against  it. 

But  here  again  an  anthropological  analysis  would  prove  that  some  such 
disintegrating  forces  of  an  economic  nature  have  at  an  earlier  stage 
worked  at  the  expense  of  the  family,  yet  without  destroying  it.  The  family 
has  survived  the  economic  onslaught  and  extortion  of  greedy  chiefs,  as 
well  as  the  excessive  forms  of  taxation  in  the  highly  organized  little  states 
of  Africa  or  Oceania.  It  has  survived  the  disintegrating  influences  of 
forced  labour  and  slavery.  It  is  compatible  with  individual  exploitation 
of  the  soil  and  with  communal  land  tenure. 

Again  the  clan,  as  I  have  shown  in  the  article  on  "Kinship"  above 
mentioned,  is  not  something  which  overrides  the  family  but  it  is  a  group 
which  can  be  shown  to  grow  out  of  the  family — to  be  a  by-product  of 
family  life. 

Thus,  whichever  of  the  modern  disintegrating  forces  be  considered,  it 
is  possible  to  show  that  the  family  has  in  the  past  withstood  and  over- 



come  their  onslaught.  Individual  marriage  and  the  family  have  somehow 
readjusted  and  survived  the  attacks  of  antagonistic  political,  economic, 
legal  and  hedonistic  influences.  The  group  consisting  of  mother,  father 
and  children  emerges  always  as  a  social  unit  in  which  the  biological  proc- 
ess of  procreation  is  carried  out  under  legal  safeguards  with  a  substantial 
economic  foundation,  surrounded  by  moral  and  religious  values.  Anthro- 
pology proves  that  the  physiological  forces  of  maternal  love,  the  attach- 
ment between  husband  and  wife  and  the  interest  of  the  father  in  his 
wife's  offspring  cannot  be  readily  thrown  away  and  superseded  by  the  im- 
personal concern  of  the  State,  by  the  lukewarm  enthusiasm  of  charity  or 
by  the  cold  interest  of  scientific  planning. 

This  ^'message  of  comfort"  does  not  mean  that  we  should  be  satisfied 
with  a  supine  acquiescence  in  the  operation  of  modern  disintegrating 
forces.  A  policy  of  vigilance,  indeed  of  active  and  constructive  reform, 
is  necessary.  The  exclusive  concentration  on  the  sexual  side  of  marriage 
which  we  find  prevalent  in  modern  sociological  literature  is,  I  think,  one- 
sided to  say  the  least.  The  most  important  need  is  to  realize  that  in  the 
future  we  must  create  economic,  legal  and  social  conditions  with  real 
advantages  to  those  who  enter  marriage  and  produce  large  families. 

The  study  of  the  family  teaches  us  that  a  civilization  which  would 
destroy  the  family  would  also  destroy  the  continuity  of  tradition,  the 
interest  in  building  up  economic  enterprise,  and  with  this  also  the  integrity 
of  human  character. 

tlllilll  3  llllllllllllilllll 


*'Daddy,  what  an  ass  you  are!"  This  was  the  final  sentence  in  an  argument 
which  I  had  with  my  youngest  daughter,  aged  five.  I  had  not  been  able 
to  convince  her  or  to  sway  her  opinion.  ...  I  ceased  arguing  and  re- 
flected. I  tried  to  imagine  what  would  have  happened  had  I  thus  addressed 
my  father  some  forty  years  ago.  I  shuddered  and  sighed.  Fate  was  unkind 
in  making  me  appear  forty  years  too  soon. 

Four  hundred  years  earlier  for  such  a  reply  a  child  would  have  been 
beaten,  put  into  a  dark  room,  tortured  or  disciplined  into  death  or  moral 
annihilation.  Four  thousand  years  ago,  perhaps,  in  the  Bronze  Age,  a  blood- 
thirsty patriarch  would  have  killed  it  outright.  But  forty  thousand  years 
back  or  thereabouts  (I  am  not  very  strong  on  dates  or  hypotheses)  the 
weak,  matrilineal  father  might  have  smiled  on  his  offspring  even  more 
indulgently  than  I  was  able  to  do,  and  without  that  wry  twist  on  his 
face  which  comes,  I  suppose,  from  undigested  patriarchal  traditions.  In 
any  case,  among  my  present-day  Stone  Age  savages  of  the  South  Seas,  I 
have  heard  children  address  a  father  as  frankly  and  unceremoniously, 
with  the  perfect  equivalent  in  native  of  the  English  "you  dam'  fool!" 
while  he  argued  back  without  any  show  of  patriarchal  dignity. 

The  wheel  of  change  turns  round  and  brings  back  again  things  that 
once  lived  and  only  yesterday  seemed  dead  and  lost  beyond  retrieving. 
To  the  anthropologist  there  is  nothing  new  under  the  sun.  He  teaches  us 
to  look  with  weary  indulgence  at  the  most  disconcerting  extravagances 
of  our  time,  he  adopts  a  wise  foresight  and  philosophic  caution  towards 
the  most  intoxicating  promises  of  reform.  In  this  lies  his  value  to  the  all- 
too-sanguine  sociological  radical. 

The  anthropologist  remains  unmoved  even  when  faced  with  the  most 

This  article  appeared  in  The  New  Generation:  The  Intimate  Problems  of 
Modern  Parents  and  Children,  edited  by  V.  F.  Calverton  and  Samuel  D.  Schmal- 
hausen,  with  Introduction  by  Bertrand  Russell,  Allen  &  Untviit,  London,  and 
The  Macaulay  Co.,  New  York,  1930,  pp.  113-68,  and  is  reprinted  by  permission. 



shocking,  dangerous  and  ominous  signs  of  youthful  moral  decay,  with 
revolts  of  children  against  parents,  with  such  symptoms  as  "petting 
parties"  and  increasing  divorce.  He  teaches  us  that  such  things  have  been 
before  and  that  they  have  passed  without  having  killed  or  poisoned  the 
soul  of  mankind.  And  in  this  lies  the  comfort  of  anthropology  to  the 
wise  conservative.  The  die-hard  who  despairs  or  loses  his  head  and  temper 
in  planning  all  sorts  of  repressive  and  reactionary  measures  of  retrogres- 
sion is  beyond  consolation,  or  the  reach  of  any  serious  argument  either. 

There  is  no  problem  in  which  comfort  and  caution,  as  well  as  vision 
and  intelligence,  are  more  needed  than  the  one  discussed  in  this  volume. 
It  is  indeed  the  most  actual  and  burning  question  of  to-day — the  revolt 
of  modern  youth  against  the  conventions  represented  by  the  parental 
generation;  the  fight  of  the  young  for  freedom,  and  the  resistance  offered 
by  the  old. 

The  relations  between  parents  and  children,  as  well  as  our  views  on 
them,  are  undoubtedly  undergoing  a  profound  change.  As  our  knowledge 
increases  the  very  facts  themselves  shift  and  modify  under  our  eyes. 
Psychoanalysis  has  no  sooner  delved  its  complexes  out  of  the  Unconscious, 
than  we  see  them  enacted  in  real  tragedies,  individual  and  collective.  The 
so-called  freeing  of  children  in  the  Soviet  Republic  has  assumed  cata- 
strophic dimensions.  The  same  new  liberty  takes  less  acute,  but  not  less 
puzzling,  forms,  in  the  United  States,  in  England  and  in  Germany.  The 
facts  revealed  by  Judge  Ben  Lindsey,  and  in  the  works  of  W.  I.  Thomas, 
G.  V.  Hamilton  and  other  students  of  juvenile  delinquency,  seem  to  dis- 
close an  entirely  new  world  of  precocious  vice.  The  champions  of  the 
old  order  try,  above  all,  to  silence  the  denouncers,  to  put  a  taboo  on  any 
discussion.  When  that  seems  an  insufficient  remedy  they  suggest  crude, 
repressive  measures.  The  Fascist  State  and  its  imitative  fellow-dictator- 
ships of  Southern  Europe  are  Prussianizing  education,  and  they  thus  hope 
to  stem  the  evil  and  to  produce,  under  stern  state  control,  the  ideal 
citizen  and  moral  being  at  high  speed  and  under  high  pressure. 

The  relations  between  the  two  generations  are  in  the  melting  pot.  New 
forces  are  at  work,  the  old  [and  new]"'  principles  are  in  solution,  and  we 
really  cannot  foretell  what  the  results  will  be.  The  sober  scientific  outlook, 
the  weight  of  facts  on  which  it  must  be  based,  the  breadth  of  vision  which 
it  can  give,  seem  more  urgently  needed  than  ever.  We  must  therefore  turn 
to  science. 

It  is  the  function  of  science  to  control  the  future  on  the  basis  of  a 
correct  analysis  of  the  past  and  present:  Knowledge  gives  foresight  in 
the  light  of  experience.  In  discussing  the  future  of  parenthood  and  the 
family  the  sociologist  will  do  well  to  reflect  on  what  these  institutions 

*  As  in  manuscript;  not  carried  over  to  publication. 



are,  how  they  develop  and  how  they  are  related  to  human  nature.  Above 
all,  how  they  work  and  how  they  have  worked  in  the  various  societies 
of  the  past  and  present. 

The  anthropologist,  as  we  said  at  the  outset,  comes  in  here  as  a  useful 
helpmate  of  the  student  of  modern  conditions.  He  studies  human  cultures 
and  the  organization  of  societies  within  the  widest  compass  of  human 
experience.  He  can  provide  the  background  of  comparative  knowledge 
against  which  all  modern  problems  must  be  discussed.  He  should  be  able 
to  lay  down  the  laws  which  define  the  constitution  and  nature  of  the 
family  and  parenthood.  He  should  be  able  to  demonstrate  how  certain 
elements  vary,  disappearing  in  some  societies,  hypertrophied  in  others, 
while  yet  the  fundamentals  of  relationship  between  parents  and  children 
remain  stable  and  universal.  These  fundamentals  are  the  true  constituent 
elements  of  marriage,  parenthood  and  the  family.  Their  discovery,  defini- 
tion and  establishment  is  the  real  task  of  scientific  anthropology. 

It  might  be  objected  that  the  student  of  society  would  look  in  vain 
for  simple,  concordant  and  acceptable  answers  from  present-day  anthro- 
pology. Looking  up  Westermarck  or  Crawley  he  would  find  that  marriage 
was  monogamous  from  the  outset.  If  he  referred  to  the  writings  of  Rivers 
and  Sidney  Hartland,  or  the  popular  works  of  Briffault,  Ivan  Bloch,  Ploss- 
Bartels  or  [Ferdinand  Emil]  Reitzenstein,  he  would  find  that  promiscuity, 
group-marriage,  and  an  overwhelming  proto-feminism  existed  in  primitive 
mankind,  and  that  family  and  marriage  are  late  products.  He  would 
learn  a  great  deal  about  the  gorilla  and  the  missing  link,  he  would  be  told 
lewd  and  lurid  stories  about  pithecanthropoid  raping  and  about  com- 
munistic and  classificatory  savages;  he  would  enjoy  short  stories  about 
long  words,  such  as  exogamy,  incest-fixation,  endopatrophagy,  marriage- 
by-capture-cum-polyandry.  He  would  emerge  learned  but  not  necessarily 
wise,  not  any  wiser  certainly,  as  to  what  has  been  in  the  matter  of  family 
and  marriage,  of  parents  and  children.  He  would  even  find  himself  thor- 
oughly muddled  as  to  what  present-day  savages  do  think  or  feel  in  these 
matters.  For  these  poor  savages  are  being  constantly  used  as  pawns  in 
controversy  and  props  in  hypotheses,  rather  than  as  living  beings  and 
the  subjects  of  a  living  science.  The  institutions  of  the  native  races  of 
to-day  instead  of  being  used  as  material  for  sociological  study,  as  a  basis 
for  scientific  induction,  are  regarded  as  "survivals"  of  past  stages  and 
indices  of  vanished  historical  periods. 

There  is  one  movement  in  anthropology,  however,  which  is  built  on  a 
strictly  comparative  foundation  and  studies  facts  primarily  with  an  em- 
pirical and  sociological  interest.  The  functional  school  of  anthropology 
has  made  considerable  contributions  towards  this  problem  and  the  results 
will  be  briefly  presented  here.-'^ 

^  For  a  brief  account  of  the  general  character  of  the  Functional  method  see  article 
s.v.  "Social  Anthropology"  in  the  14th  Edition  of  the  Encyclopcedia  Britannica  written 



The  theoretical  issues,  as  we  have  said,  have  been  so  muddled  by  con- 
troversy and  misguided  methods  that  it  will  be  necessary  to  have  a  direct 
look  at  conditions  as  they  exist  in  primitive  societies  still  open  to  observa- 
tion. Let  us  for  a  moment  forget  all  anthropological  quarrels  and  theories: 
let  us  lift  the  veil  of  prejudice  and  controversy,  look  at  facts  directly, 
and  to  this  end  arrange  an  experiment  in  thought  if  not  in  reality. 

Let  us  imagine  an  intelligent  observer  stranded  among  an  entirely 
savage  tribe — a  sort  of  ethnographic  Robinson  Crusoe.  He  could  reveal 
to  us  many  interesting  points  in  method  of  field-work,  as  well  as  collect 
valuable  observations.  For,  with  an  uncorrupted  sample  of  primitive  hu- 
manity before  him,  himself  unbiased  by  the  missionary's  zeal  and  one- 
sided view  of  native  culture,  unhampered  by  the  planter's  greed,  and 
the  administrator's  spurious  sense  of  power,  he  would  have  unlimited  op- 
portunities for  a  sympathetic  study  of  the  people  around  him.  At  the 
same  time,  unlike  the  learned  modern  field-worker,  he  would  have  no 
theoretical  preconceptions,  he  would  not  be  partially  blinded  by  his  previ- 
ous vision  of  primitive  humanity  as  dictated  by  theories  and  hypotheses. 
Such  an  ideal  observer,  interested  and  yet  unprejudiced,  intelligent  yet 
with  his  common  sense  still  intact,  would  register  the  facts  of  primitive 
life  as  they  appeared  to  him,  so  to  speak,  in  layers,  illuminated  by  deepen- 
ing psychological  and  sociological  insight. 

At  first  he  would  probably  be  struck  by  a  number  of  customs,  shock- 
ing in  their  crudity,  cruelty  and  strangeness;  and  at  the  same  time  he 
would  be  equally  impressed  by  a  body  of  beliefs,  usages  and  institutions 
so  entirely  similar  to  our  own  as  to  be  almost  indistinguishable  to  an  un- 
trained eye.  Among  these  latter  our  ethnographer  would  probably  pick 
out  the  institutions  of  the  family  and  the  bonds  of  kinship  as  an  out- 
standing example  of  the  "uniformity  of  human  nature." 

Indeed,  at  first  sight,  the  typical  savage  family,  as  it  is  found  among 
the  vast  majority  of  native  tribes — of  the  few  apparent  exceptions  I 
shall  speak  presently — seems  hardly  to  differ  at  all  from  its  civilized 
counterpart.  Mother,  father  and  children  share  the  camp,  the  home,  the 
food  and  the  life.  The  intimacy  of  the  family  existence,  the  daily  round 
of  meals,  the  domestic  occupations  and  outdoor  work,  the  rest  at  night 
and  the  awakening  to  a  new  day,  seem  to  run  on  strictly  parallel  lines 

by  the  present  writer,  who  is  also  responsible  for  the  label  "Functional"  now  generally 
attached  to  the  movement  of  which  he  is  a  follower.  "Kinship"  and  "Marriage"  have 
also  been  treated  from  the  Functional  point  of  view  in  two  articles  in  the  Encyclopcedia 
[Chapt.  6  and  Chapt.  1  of  Sex,  Culture,  and  Myih].  The  method  is  also  exemplified 
in  Sex  and  Repression  in  Savage  Society  (1927)  and  The  Sexual  Life  of  Savages  (1929) 
which  deal  with  the  problem  of  sex  and  parenthood.  Professors  A.  Radcliffe-Brown  and 
R.  Thurnwald,  Dr.  R.  W.  Firth  and  Captain  Pitt-Rivers  are  also  associated  with  the 
Functional  movement  while  the  following  writers  are  spiritually  akin  to  it:  Havelock 
Ellis,  R.  H.  Lowie  and  E.  Westermarck,  G.  A.  Dorsey  and  E.  Sapir,  A.  A.  Goldenweiser 
and  Margaret  Mead. 



in  civilized  and  in  savage  societies,  allowance  being  made  for  the  difference 
in  the  level  of  culture.  The  members  of  the  family  are  evidently  as  closely 
bound  together  in  a  native  tribe  as  they  are  in  an  European  society.  At- 
tached to  each  other,  sharing  life  and  most  of  its  interests,  exchanging 
counsel  and  help,  company  and  cheer,  and  reciprocating  in  economic 
cooperation,  the  same  bonds  unite  them  as  those  of  our  family;  similar 
distances  and  barriers  separate  them  from  other  families.  In  Australia 
and  among  most  North  American  Indians,  in  Melanesia  and  in  Siberia, 
among  the  majority  of  African  tribes  and  in  South  America,  the  indi- 
vidual undivided  family  stands  out  conspicuous,  a  definite  social  unit 
marked  off  from  the  rest  of  society  by  a  clear  line  of  division.^  An  ob- 
server would  have  to  close  his  eyes  or  read  himself  blind  in  the  works  of 
Morgan,  Kohler,  [Heinrich]  Cunow  or  Rivers  not  to  see  this. 

Had  our  ethnographic  Robinson  Crusoe  an  abundance  of  time  for  the 
study  of  native  customs  and  sufficient  intelligence  and  method  to  reflect 
upon  them,  he  could  substantiate  his  first  impression  by  weighty  argu- 
ments. Thus  he  would  find  that  what  could  be  called  the  instinctive 
foundation  of  maternal  love  is  clearly  traceable  in  his  native  society. 
The  expectant  mother  is  interested  in  her  future  offspring,  she  is  absorbed 
in  it  from  the  moment  of  its  birth,  and  in  the  carrying  out  of  her  social 
duties  of  suckling,  nursing  and  tending  it,  she  is  supported  by  strong 
biological  inclinations.  In  a  tribe  where  there  are  such  practices  as  in- 
fanticide or  frequent  adoption,  the  natural  innate  tendencies  of  maternal 
love  may  become  rebelliously  subservient  to  custom  and  tribal  law,  but 
they  are  never  completely  stifled  or  obliterated.  In  any  case,  once  a  child 
is  spared,  kept  and  nursed  by  the  mother,  maternal  love  grows  into  a 
passion.  And  this  passion  develops  as  the  mother  has  to  guide,  watch  over 
and  educate  her  child,  and  lasts  through  life.  To  this  the  child  responds 
with  an  exclusive  personal  attachment  to  the  mother,  and  the  mutual 
bond  remains  one  of  the  strongest  sentiments  in  any  human  society. 

What  might  strike  an  observer  with  even  greater  force  would  be  the 
position  of  the  father.  Expecting,  perhaps,  from  a  savage  man  a  certain 
degree  of  ferocity  towards  wife  and  children,  he  might  be  astonished  to 
find  instead  a  kind  and  considerate  husband  and  a  tender  father.  At  his 
worst — I  mean  in  tribes  where,  through  custom  and  tradition,  he  plays 
the  not  always  amiable  role  of  a  stern  patriarch — he  is  still  the  provider 
of  the  family,  the  helpmate  at  home,  and  the  guardian  of  the  children 
up  to  a  certain  age.  At  his  best  and  mildest,  in  a  typical  matrilineal  com- 
munity, he  is  a  drudge  within  the  household,  the  assistant  nurse  of  his 

*The  generalizations  of  this  essay  will  be  fully  substantiated  in  a  forthcoming  volume 
on  Primitive  Kinship.  Compare  also  the  article  s.v.  "Kinship"  in  the  14th  Edition,  Encyclo- 
paedia Britannica  [see  Chapt.  6  of  Sex,  Culture,  and  Myth];  and  the  writer's  The  Family 
among  the  Australian  Aborigines  (1913). 



children,  the  weaker  and  fonder  of  the  two  parents,  and  later  on  the 
most  faithful  and  often  the  most  intimate  friend  of  his  sons  and  daughters. 

If  our  observer  wanted  to  lay  yet  deeper  foundations  for  his  initial  view 
of  the  permanence  and  importance  of  the  individual  family,  he  might 
point  out  a  number  of  traditional  usages,  customary  and  legal  norms 
referring  to  common  habitation,  household  occupations  and  mutual  eco- 
nomic duties — all  of  them  making  the  undivided  individual  family  a 
definite  legal  unit.  The  relation  of  mother  to  child,  clearly  dictated  by 
natural  inclinations,  is  yet  not  entirely  left  to  them.  The  mother,  besides 
feeling  inclined  to  do  all  she  does  for  her  child,  is  none  the  less  obliged 
to  do  it.  An  unnatural  mother  would  be  not  only  blamed  but  punished, 
and  the  bad  or  careless  father  would  equally  have  to  suffer  under  the 
lash  of  public  opinion  or  be  punished  by  some  definite  legal  measure. 

Thus,  as  likely  as  not,  the  final  conclusion  of  our  authority  would  be 
that  in  matters  of  kinship,  family  life  and  children,  matters  among 
primitive  people  are  much  as  they  are  with  us.  That  is  to  say,  the  personal 
bonds  of  kinship  are  the  same  in  primitive  tribes  and  in  civilized  societies; 
and  the  affection  within  the  family,  the  habits,  uses  and  laws  of  the 
savage  household  are  entirely  reminiscent  of  a  peasant's  or  poor  man's 
home  in  Europe.  The  mother,  tied  by  physiological  bonds  to  her  children, 
fulfils  the  same  part  as  every  mother  has  to  fulfil;  the  father  in  a  savage 
community  seems  to  be  there  for  exactly  the  same  purpose  as  the  patri- 
archal head  of  the  family  in  modern  European  society;  to  watch  over 
the  safety  of  his  children,  to  provide  for  them  and  to  guide  them  through 

The  picture  here  attributed  to  a  supposed  ethnographic  Robinson  Crusoe 
is  not  imaginary.  It  is  just  this  sort  of  information  about  parental  love, 
the  kindly  treatment  of  children,  their  obedience  and  affection  in  return, 
the  enduring  of  family  bonds  throughout  life,  which  some  of  our  earliest 
and  best  authorities  present  in  their  ethnographic  accounts.  Nor  is  this 
picture  at  all  unreal,  though  it  is  certainly  one-sided.  Our  early  ethno- 
graphic information,  which  shows  us  the  individual  family  as  a  uni- 
versal unit  in  mankind,  which  emphasizes  motherhood,  dwells  on  the 
impressive  facts  of  family  intimacy  and  common  habitation,  and  tells  us 
what  the  native  feels  and  how  he  behaves;  this  information  gives  us  not 
only  a  true  picture,  but  it  brings  into  relief  some  of  the  most  essential 
and  valuable  features  of  kinship. 

Yet,  obviously,  it  is  a  one-sided  picture.  For  if  we  were  satisfied  with 
it,  there  would  really  be  no  problem  of  primitive  kinship  at  all.  The 
earlier  authorities,  the  patient  missionaries  who  worked  among  uncon- 
taminated  natives,  the  intelligent  traders  who  perhaps  had  the  best  op- 
portunities of  getting  in  touch  with  the  savage,  yet  lacked  the  most  im- 
portant requisites  for  scientific  observation:  the  interest  for  the  theoretical 



problem,  the  faculty  of  discerning  a  social  institution  through  its  concrete 
manifestations  and  the  methods  of  collecting  objective  evidence.  It  is 
significant  that  most  of  the  progress  into  the  deeper  regions  of  the  prob- 
lem of  kinship,  most  of  the  discoveries  of  its  less  obvious  aspects,  were 
made  by  workers  in  the  study,  or  at  least  stimulated  by  speculative  inter- 
est. Unfortunately  speculation  carried  away  the  scholars,  and  took  them 
out  of  touch  with  facts. 

Let  us  return  therefore  to  reality  and  show  what  it  might  have  re- 
vealed to  our  imaginary  observer  in  the  hidden  aspects  of  kinship,  those, 
that  is,  which  so  far  have  escaped  his  attention,  and  in  which  the  real 
difficulty  of  primitive  kinship  resides. 

Longer  residence  among  the  savages,  better  acquaintance  with  their 
language  and  culture,  and  above  all  patient  and  mature  reflection  upon 
what  he  saw,  would  have  suggested  to  our  observer  certain  questions  and 
revealed  certain  anomalies  in  the  typical  family  life.  Thus,  for  instance, 
had  he  been  stranded  in  a  matrilineal  society  he  would,  in  due  course, 
have  been  impressed  by  the  constant  appearance  of  the  mother's  brother, 
by  the  assumption  of  authority  on  his  part  over  his  sister's  household, 
and  by  the  number  of  obligations  which  he  had  to  fulfil  towards  it;  and 
this,  despite  the  fact  that  the  husband  v/as  still  on  the  spot,  endowed 
with  a  great  deal  of  marital  and  paternal  influence. 

Following  up  this  line  of  inquiry  our  observer  would  have  been  bound 
to  strike  the  rich  vein  of  native  theories  of  procreation  and  descent. 
Perhaps  he  would  have  found  that  in  the  tribe  where  he  lived  the  natives 
had  no  idea  of  physiological  paternity,  that  instead  they  alleged  that 
certain  spiritual  agencies  were  responsible  for  the  birth  of  the  child.  If, 
fired  by  this  discovery,  our  observer  had  traveled  to  other  countries  to 
follow  up  his  research,  he  would  have  been  extremely  puzzled  to  find  a 
surprising  variety  in  theories  of  procreation,  in  the  conclusions  drawn 
from  them,  and  in  the  institutions  which  embody  these  theories. 

In  certain  tribes  the  mother  is  regarded  as  the  only  parent  related  by 
the  bond  of  body  and  blood  to  the  child.  Maternal  kinship  is  exclusive, 
the  mother's  brother  is  head  of  the  family,  the  father  is  not  united  by 
any  kinship  tie  to  the  child,  there  are  no  legal  rights,  no  inheritance,  no 
solidarity  in  the  agnatic  line.  Yet,  and  this  might  have  puzzled  our  ob- 
server considerably,  the  father,  even  in  such  tribes,  is  in  many  respects 
very  much  like  the  ordinary  patriarchal  father,  and  his  position  is  defined 
by  certain  rival  customs  and  laws,  apparently  in  disharmony  with  the 
general  matrilineal  constitution. 

Again,  in  another  community,  the  observer  would  have  found  that, 
in  spite  of  the  ignorance  of  fatherhood,  kinship  is  traced  in  the  paternal 
line;  the  mother  has  very  little  influence  over  the  legal  affairs  of  the 



household  and  no  influence  in  the  determining  of  descent.  In  some  cultures, 
on  the  contrary,  the  father  would  be  considered  as  the  only  real  pro- 
creative  agent,  while  the  mother  is  there  regarded  but  as  the  soil  that 
receives  the  seed. 

In  yet  another  community  descent — that  is,  the  system  of  determining 
the  child's  social  status — is  reckoned  neither  through  father  nor  through 
mother,  but  is  determined  by  the  circumstances  of  the  child's  birth,  or  by 
some  social  act  performed  during  the  woman's  pregnancy  or  after  her 
confinement,  as  is  the  case  among  the  Todas,  in  Central  Australia,  and 
in  certain  parts  of  Oceania. 

Thus  in  the  study  of  the  problems  of  descent  the  inquirer  would  be 
led  into  a  complicated  network  of  social  rules,  beliefs  and  ideas,  astonish- 
ingly complex,  abstruse  and  involved,  if  compared  with  his  initial  con- 
clusion that  "in  the  matter  of  kinship  things  are  much  the  same  with  the 
savages  as  they  are  with  us." 

What  makes  this  subject  difficult  not  only  to  grasp  but  even  to  dis- 
cover is  the  fact  that  the  natives  have  no  explicit  "theory  of  kinship" 
or  of  descent.  They  live  in  a  particular  set  of  social  conditions,  have 
certain  concrete  rules  which  they  obey,  some  of  which  they  also  formu- 
late, and  have  a  number  of  beliefs  controlling  their  kinship  attitudes.  But 
to  bring  all  these  diffused  and  dispersed  data  into  one  pattern  is  far  be- 
yond the  mental  grasp  of  the  most  exceptionally  intelligent  native,  even 
in  a  relatively  high  culture.  The  unity  of  systems  of  kinship  and  descent 
is  achieved  by  the  facts  of  social  life  and  through  the  integrating  power 
of  social  organization.  It  is  the  ethnographer's  task  to  discover  and  de- 
scribe this  unity,  and  that  he  can  do  only  by  observing  the  social  organi- 
zation at  work,  a  task  of  no  mean  difficulty. 

The  study  of  the  problems  of  descent  would  lead  the  observer  to  the 
discovery  of  a  type  of  kinship  organization  little  known  in  our  modern 
European  communities,  though  still  existing  among  certain  Celtic  and 
Slavonic  peoples  of  Europe.  The  majority  of  native  tribes  are  divided, 
not  only  into  families,  but  into  larger  groups  which  yet  possess  to  a 
certain  extent  a  kinship  character. 

Thus,  in  certain  areas,  the  tribe  falls  into  two  halves  or  moieties.  Each 
of  these  has  its  name,  its  collective  sense  of  unity  and  usually  a  special 
myth  defining  its  character  and  its  relation  to  the  other  moiety.  The 
division  of  certain  Australian  tribes  into  the  moieties  of  Eaglehawk  and 
Crow,  and  the  bipartition  of  the  Western  North  American  Indians  are 
classical  examples  of  this  division.  Usually  this  halving  of  a  tribe  is  asso- 
ciated with  strict  prohibition  of  marriage  within  the  moiety,  so  that  a 
man  of  the  first  must  marry  a  woman  of  the  second  and  vice  versa.  Thus 
the  two  moieties  are  knit  together  into  one  whole,  and  every  individual 
family  must  consist  of  both  elements. 



In  other  tribes  there  are  four  clans  or  classes,  in  others  again  eight, 
the  further  bisection  regulating  marriage,  playing  a  conspicuous  part  in 
ceremonial  life,  and  usually  having  some  economic  importance.  Among 
still  other  peoples  there  is  an  odd  number  of  clans  which  cannot  be 
brought  under  the  dual  or  any  numerical  principle. 

What  makes  these  modes  of  grouping  really  puzzling  is  their  kinship 
character.  The  members  of  a  clan  regard  themselves  as  kindred,  trace 
their  descent  from  a  common  ancestor,  conceive  of  their  exogamous 
prohibitions  as  of  a  variety  or  extension  of  incest,  and,  in  certain  circum- 
stances, behave  as  if  they  were  of  the  same  body  and  blood. 

Arrived  at  this  point,  the  observer  would  find  himself  surrounded  by 
a  host  of  queries,  problems  and  difficulties  which  he  had  never  suspected 
in  the  early  days  when  his  attention  was  exclusively  concentrated  on 
the  institution  of  the  family,  and  when  kinship  presented  to  him  no 
problem  whatever. 

We  have  imagined  our  commonsense  ethnographer  starting  with  the 
family  and  arriving  gradually  at  the  recognition  of  the  clan.  Had  he 
been  thrown  by  chance  into  a  society  where  the  larger  group  is  more 
prominent,  it  is  likely  that  only  towards  the  end  of  his  inquiries  might 
he  have  been  able  to  arrive  at  the  conclusion  that  the  individual  family 
still  exists  and  plays  an  important  part. 

This  would  happen,  for  example,  in  a  matrilineal  community  where 
the  whole  group  live  in  a  big  communal  house,  where  the  father  is  con- 
spicuously absent  from  the  family,  and  visits  his  wife  in  a  clandestine 
manner  at  night,  spending  most  of  his  time  in  the  men's  clubhouse.  But 
in  such  a  society  we  find  in  reality  the  same  state  of  affairs  as  previously 
described,  turned,  so  to  speak,  inside  out.  For  though  usually  absent  the 
father  is  none  the  less  an  indispensable  member  of  the  household.  He  has 
to  marry  the  woman  if  his  children  are  to  enjoy  full  legal  status  in  the 
tribe.  He  remains  the  guardian  of  the  family  in  certain  matters,  he  still 
has  to  fulfil  economic  duties,  and  is  very  often  bound  to  act  as  the  repre- 
sentative of  his  wife  and  children  on  ceremonial,  religious  and  magical 
occasions.  Family  life,  written  large  on  the  surface  of  their  existence 
among  most  primitive  peoples,  is  here  the  recondite  aspect  of  social  organi- 
zation, bvit  is  nevertheless  real  and  important. 

In  all  early  societies  there  are  to  be  found  the  two  main  facets  of  kin- 
ship: the  relation  between  individuals  and  the  relation  between  groups — 
though  not  necessarily  developed  clans.  And  it  is  the  tracing  of  the 
connection  between  these  two  aspects  which  forms  the  main  problem  of 
the  sociology  of  kinship,  and  from  which  arise  all  the  difficulties. 

Perhaps  the  most  baffling  and  disquieting  of  all  the  questions  connected 
with  kinship  is  the  queer  linguistic  usage  known  as  "the  classificatory  sys- 
tem of  relationship."  As  he  mastered  the  language  our  observer  would 
find  that  the  child  who  applies  the  words  "mother"  and  "father"  to  his 



own  parents  is  taught  to  bestow  these  titles  upon  some  other  people.  The 
mother's  sister  is  called  by  the  same  name  as  the  mother,  the  father's 
brother  is  addressed  as  "father,"  and  he  also  extends  the  terms  mother, 
father,  brother,  sister,  etc.,  to  certain  classes  of  more  distant  relatives  and 
clansmen,  while  for  certain  other  relatives  he  is  taught  to  use  entirely 
new  terms  of  kinship — but  these  he  also  applies  not  to  one  person  but  to 
several  people.  This  so-called  "classificatory"  use  of  kinship  terms  is  preva- 
lent among  the  vast  majority  of  savage  communities,  although  it  is  not 

This  discovery  made,  our  observer  is  faced  by  a  really  difficult  problem. 
Language  and  linguistic  usage  seem  apparently  to  break  the  bonds  of 
family,  to  obliterate  fatherhood  by  substituting  a  ''group  of  fathers"  for 
the  individual  one,  a  "group  of  mothers"  for  their  own  mother,  and  so 
on.  Since  our  observer  is  well  acquainted  with  the  language  and  social 
organization  of  the  natives,  he  will  not  adopt  the  easy  explanation  of  this 
linguistic  usage  as  a  mere  form  of  politeness,  nor  imagine  that  the  appel- 
lations of  kinship  are  extended  merely  as  "terms  of  address."  He  knows 
that  the  terms  are  applied  according  to  strict  rules  to  a  number  of  people 
whose  relationship  is  traceable  by  pedigree  or  defined  by  membership  in 
the  clan.  He  knows  also  that  behind  the  linguistic  usage  there  is  a  set 
of  mutual  obligations  between  the  man  and  all  those  whom  he  calls 
"father,"  "mother"  and  so  on.  The  "fathers"  act  as  group  on  certain 
occasions,  at  ceremonies,  in  legal  matters,  in  economic  cooperation,  and 
they  are  therefore  a  well-defined  social  class  and  not  merely  a  name. 

Having  come  to  realize  this,  our  observer  might  make  another  mistake, 
perhaps  even  more  dangerous  than  that  of  regarding  the  family  as  the 
exclusive  kinship  unit  and  of  overemphasizing  its  resemblance  to  our 
European  family.  Tired  by  all  the  difficulties  and  contradictions  which 
face  him  at  every  fresh  discovery  in  kinship,  he  might  happen  upon  a 
new  and  apparently  simple  solution:  "Surely  the  crux  lies  in  the  fact 
that  these  people  have  an  entirely  different  view  of  kinship  and  an  entirely 
different  system  of  reckoning  and  regarding  relatives.  The  cardinal  point 
of  their  conception  is  the  idea  of  group-relationship.  In  this  we  have  to 
take  the  cue  from  the  language  and  realize  that  as  the  people  have  no 
special  words  in  their  vocabulary  to  distinguish  their  real  parents,  real 
children,  real  spouses,  and  so  on,  even  so  these  individual  relatives  matter 
little  or  nothing  to  them.  We  must  discard  our  own  ideas,  adopt  the 
primitive,  the  classificatory  view  of  kinship,  and  correlate  it  perhaps  with 
certain  original  institutions  of  mankind,  which  we  can  easily  infer  from 
the  character  of  the  systems  of  nomenclature." 

And  here  we  see  our  observer  drifting  gradually  into  speculations  about 
primitive  conditions,  survivals  and  past  stages  of  human  development, 
and,  with  the  best  intentions,  turning  his  back  on  facts,  and  following  the 
road  into  which  most  of  his  anthropological  predecessors  have  been  lured. 



I  have  tried  to  summarize  with  the  aid  of  our  imaginary  observer  some 
of  the  outstanding  difficulties  and  puzzles  of  primitive  kinship  as  they 
have  actually  presented  themselves  in  the  course  of  anthropological  re- 
search. In  the  history  of  the  problem  there  was  indeed  a  time  when  tradi- 
tion and  science  were,  so  to  speak,  under  the  first  impression  of  the  facts, 
when  the  early  unsophisticated  view  was  universally  held,  that  primitive 
kinship  based  on  the  family  is  essentially  similar  to  our  own,  that  mankind 
lived  from  the  beginning  in  the  typical  patriarchal  family. 

This  was  the  view  we  inherited  from  classical  antiquity  and  took  over 
with  the  Bible  from  Semitic  mythology.  It  was  prevalent  during  the 
Middle  Ages  and  right  up  to  the  second  half  of  the  last  century.  It 
dominated  Christian  theology — was  in  fact  part  of  it.  It  was  retained  by 
the  Encyclopaedists  who  found  in  it  a  natural  institution,  suitable  to 
natural  man.  The  early  observations  of  missionaries  and  travelers  did  not 
in  any  way  seriously  upset  it.  Thus  it  could  take  definite  scientific  form 
at  the  hands  of  students  of  Indo-European  linguistics  and  archaeology, 
and  even  later  of  such  writers  as  Fustel  de  Coulanges  and  Sir  Henry 
Maine,  who  both  had  good  knowledge  of  anthropological  evidence.  Maine 
can  in  fact  be  regarded  as  the  chief  scientific  upholder  of  the  patriarchal 

Then  came  the  discoveries  of  Bachofen,  Morgan  and  McLennan  which 
overthrew  the  position  once  and  forever.  They  disclosed  remarkable  and 
unsuspected  aspects  of  primitive  kinship;  mother-right,  avunculate,  the 
clan  system  and  exogamy,  the  importance  of  the  levirate,  polyandry  and 
cross-cousin  marriage,  and  above  all  the  classificatory  nomenclature.  These 
discoveries,  remarkably  enough,  were  made  primarily  from  the  armchair, 
by  the  reconstruction  and  reinterpretation  of  ancient  customs  and  certain 
previously  known  ethnographical  facts.  Morgan's  discovery  of  classi- 
ficatory nomenclature  was  the  only  one  made  in  the  field,  and  he  imme- 
diately carried  it  into  the  province  of  speculation. 

Yet  these  armchair  discoveries  are  perhaps  among  the  most  signal  proofs 
of  the  power  of  scientific  thought  in  anthropology.  For  soon  a  wealth  of 
facts  began  to  pour  in  from  various  parts  of  the  world,  confirming  the 
inspired  vision  of  Bachofen,  the  shrewd  reconstructions  of  McLennan, 
and  the  imaginative  schemes  of  Morgan.  However  distorted  most  of  the 
hypotheses  were  in  their  final  version,  there  is  no  doubt  that  their  main 
tenet,  the  affirmation  of  the  depth  and  importance  and  above  all  the 
variety  of  primitive  kinship,  was  based  on  a  strong  sense  of  reality. 

The  sudden  and  dramatic  turn  which  opinions  on  the  family  and 
marriage  took  was  not,  however,  without  its  evil  consequences:  it  created 
the  rift  in  anthropological  opinion  to  which  allusion  has  already  been 
made.  So  that  at  present,  anthropology  is  divided  into  two  camps  on 
almost  every  point  associated  with  the  theory  of  primitive  marriage, 
sexuality  and  parenthood.  The  one  side,  roughly  speaking,  regards  mo- 



nogamy  as  the  original  form  of  marriage,  patriarchy  as  the  dominant 
principle  of  early  kinship,  and  the  family  as  the  cell  of  society.  The 
other  side  believes  in  a  state  of  primitive  promiscuity  or  communistic 
marriage,  in  the  clan  as  playing  the  role  of  an  early  domestic  institution, 
and  classificatory  kinship  as  being  the  principle  of  original  parenthood. 

Both  sides  are  certainly  in  error  insofar  as  each  overlooks  one  essential 
aspect  of  human  kinship  and  over-emphasizes  the  other.  To  overcome  this 
deadlock  which  results  in  sterile  controversy  and  dialectical  exercise  we 
must  attempt  to  understand  the  reasons  which  caused  either  camp  to 
assume  a  hostile  position,  from  which  they  cannot  move  or  come  to  terms. 

It  is  not  difficult  to  see  why  the  old  patriarchal  theory  became  untenable 
and  how  the  revolution  in  ideas  came  about.  With  the  discovery  of  primi- 
tive mother-right  and  classificatory  nomenclature,  as  well  as  with  the 
recognition  of  early  forms  of  marriage  incompatible  with  the  monogamous 
ideal,  most  of  the  old  tenets  had  to  be  discarded.  Biblical  patriarchy  could 
not  be  reconciled  with  the  dominant  position  of  the  mother's  brother,  nor 
the  tracing  of  kinship  through  the  mother  with  the  old  Latin  preponder- 
ance of  paternal  kinship.  And  mother-right  had  to  be  accounted  for. 

Why  is  it  that,  under  primitive  conditions,  maternity  seems  to  have 
so  much  greater  importance  and  to  become  associated  even  with  power? 
The  solution  which  floated  before  the  visionary  mind  of  Bachofen  is 
well  known.  His  intuition  told  him  that  originally  mankind  had  lived 
in  sexual  promiscuity  in  v-^hich  there  was  no  marriage  and  no  fatherhood. 
The  role  of  woman  was  so  degraded  in  fact  that  even  maternity  did  not 
lead  to  social  influence,  and  women,  debased  by  male  lust,  were  of  no 
real  political  importance.  Against  this  condition  they  revolted.  They  as- 
serted woman's  claim  to  her  children,  they  created  the  right  to  love  and 
to  exercise  choice  though  not  yet  exclusiveness  in  mating.  Woman  had  a 
natural  male  protector  in  her  brother  and  avunculate  became  an  institu- 
tion associated  with  mother-right.  Thus  order  was  born  with  mother-right, 
and  order  as  well  as  law  and  morals  became  founded  on  woman's  right  to 
choose  her  lovers  and  to  own  her  children.  A  beautiful  theory,  or  rather 
myth — inspiring,  revolutionizing,  all  our  ideas,  irradiated  with  the  charm 
of  the  Eternal  Feminine,  making  primitive  woman  a  primeval  Beatrice 
who  leads  men  out  of  the  Hell  of  Promiscuity  into  the  Heaven  of  Love 
and  civilization! 

The  patriarchal  theory  was  submitted  almost  simultaneously  to  yet 
another  attack.  It  was  less  inspired  but  even  more  penetrating  and  formi- 
dable, since  it  came  armed  with  a  wealth  of  fact  and  of  almost  incon- 
trovertible linguistic  argument.  Morgan's  hypothesis  of  promiscuity  and 
group-marriage  came  from  that  inexhaustible  source  of  scientific  con- 
jectures— the  etymological  study  of  words.  The  words — in  this  case  classi- 
ficatory kinship  terminologies — appeared,  however,  to  be  so  clear  in  their 
purpose,  so  telling  in  their  historical  reminiscences,  that  the  early  stages 



of  marriage  were  brought  back  to  us,  as  it  were,  preserved  in  fragments  of 
native  vocabularies. 

Morgan's  attack  was  directed,  remarkably  enough,  against  the  very 
strongholds  of  the  patriarchal  theory,  the  biological  foundation  of  father- 
hood. But  Morgan  himself  was  under  the  influence  of  patriarchalism,  in 
that  he  regarded  the  father  as  the  dominant  parent  and  the  most  important 
person  in  the  counting  of  kinship.  He  felt  that  if  the  classificatory  uses 
of  kinship  terminologies  could  be  explained  as  regards  the  father,  all 
other  classificatory  uses  would  become  plain.  To  him,  then,  the  real  prob- 
lem was  the  classificatory  plurality  of  fathers,  as  expressed  by  native 
linguistic  usage. 

Now  the  best  explanation  of  the  plurality  of  fathers  is  the  proverbial 
uncertainty  of  fatherhood  alluded  to  by  Homer  and  expressed  in  Latin 
legal  maxims.  But  this  uncertainty  of  fatherhood,  in  order  to  give  rise  to 
a  classificatory  use  of  the  term,  had  to  be  conceived  as  definitely  institu- 
tionalized. And  here  the  ever-fascinating  hypothesis  of  primitive  promis- 
cuity once  more  presented  itself  as  a  plausible  and  natural  explanation 
which  made  everything  clear  and  consistent.  If  all  members  of  a  primitive 
horde  mated  promiscuously,  then  all  the  men  of  the  older  generation 
would  stand  in  the  relation  of  potential  fathers  to  the  child.  If  he  wanted 
to  be  correct  he  would  have  to  use  the  term  "father"  to  all  of  them 
jointly.  And,  consistently  with  that  usage,  he  would  call  the  women  of 
the  older  generation  "mothers,"  those  of  his  own  generation  "wives"; 
while  the  men  of  his  own  generation  would  be  "brothers,"  and  those  much 
younger  than  himself  potential  "sons"  and  "daughters." 

Thus  the  classificatory  use  of  kinship  terms  was  completely  explained 
as  the  linguistic  expression  of  promiscuity,  and  of  its  later  development, 
group-marriage.  The  hypothesis,  moreover,  is,  to  Morgan  and  his  followers, 
the  only  explanation  possible  of  classificatory  kinship  terminologies.  The 
fact  that  classificatory  nomenclatures  still  exist  in  primitive  communities 
from  which  promiscuity  has  completely  disappeared,  and  where  group- 
marriage  exists  only  in  "traces,"  is  due  (according  to  our  authorities)  to 
the  persistency  with  which  words  and  verbal  usages  "survive"  after  their 
sociological  foundation  has  vanished.  Thus  the  two  most  puzzling  phe- 
nomena of  primitive  social  organization — mother-right  and  the  classi- 
ficatory terminology  of  kinship — led  by  different  roads  to  the  same  as- 
sumption, that  promiscuity  of  group-mating  was  the  primitive  form  of 
marriage;  that  the  communal  horde,  or  the  clan,  represented  the  primitive 
family;  and  that  group-kinship  was  the  form  of  early  parentage. 

A  flood  of  arguments  and  corroborative  evidence  began  to  pour  in  as 
supporting  this  famous  hypothesis.  Such  survivals  as  ceremonial  capture 
in  marriage  rites,  customs  like  the  couvade,  the  levirate  and  cross-cousin 
marriage — above  all  the  interminable  variety  of  standardized  sexual  liber- 
ties and  excesses,  were  adduced  in  support  of  a  primeval  communism  in 



wives.  It  seemed  for  a  time  as  if  the  older  view  were  completely  to  be 
swept  off  the  scientific  map,  as  if  the  family,  monogamous  marriage, 
sexual  exclusiveness  and  jealousy  were  to  be  regarded  as  late  and  artificial 
acquisitions,  completely  irrelevant  in  the  shaping  of  human  morals,  institu- 
tions and  laws. 

Then  came  a  reaction,  cogent,  destructive  and,  as  reactions  often  are, 
somewhat  one-sided.  The  biological  warning  of  Darwin,  amplified  and 
sociologically  supplemented  by  Westermarck,  put  a  serious  query  against 
the  assumption  of  promiscuity  and  group-marriage  as  incom.patible  with 
selective  mating,  that  is  as  a  condition  which  would  inevitably  lead  to 
racial  degeneration  and  social  disorder.  McLennan,  though  in  agreement 
with  Morgan's  main  hypothesis,  pointed  out  certain  obvious  linguistic 
fallacies  involved  in  taking  the  classificatory  terms  at  their  face  value; 
and  his  arguments  were  taken  up  later  by  Andrew  Lang,  Crawley  and 
Westermarck.  Finally  Westermarck,  the  main  leader  of  this  reaction  and 
the  champion  of  monogamy,  pointed  out  that  both  marriage  in  single 
pairs  and  the  family  play  a  conspicuous  part  in  the  most  primitive  so- 
cieties known  to  us,  and  that  the  father  is  by  no  means  a  mere  communal 
cipher,  but  is  always  the  head  of  the  undivided  family  and  household, 
even  where  kinship  is  traced  through  women. 

And  here  the  argument  still  stands.  One  side,  represented  by  Wester- 
marck,  Andrew  Lang,  Crawley  and  Pater  Schmidt,  insists  on  the  im- 
portance of  the  family,  individual  kinship,  and  the  paramount  relevance 
of  biological  factors;  while  the  other,  led  by  Durkheim  and  Rivers,  Sidney 
Hartland,  Frazer  and  Briffault,  granting  all  this  more  or  less  grudgingly, 
discounts  the  sociological  value  of  biological  factors,  insists  on  the  com- 
munistic inclinations  of  primitive  man,  presents  classificatory  terms  and 
classificatory  legal  usages,  mother-right  and  the  avunculate,  as  puzzles 
which  cannot  be  solved  except  by  the  hypothesis  of  communal  marriage 
and  group-kinship. 

There  is  no  doubt  that  each  side  neglects  one  fundamental  aspect  of 
the  subject.  Looking  at  facts  through  the  eyes  of  our  imaginary  observer, 
we  saw  that  neither  the  family  nor  the  clan  can  be  ignored.  Both  exist  and 
they  do  not  exclude  each  other  but  rather  are  complementary.  We  must 
not  neglect  the  family  or  parenthood  in  primitive  society  because  it  is  a 
familiar  and  drab  subject.  We  must  not  overemphasize  group-kinship 
because  it  is  so  strange  and  exotic;  because  it  lends  itself  to  speculations 
about  the  communistic  savage;  because  it  seems  to  explain  so  well  sensa- 
tional and  ''queer"  features,  such  as  classificatory  terms,  mother-right 
I  and  exogamy  and  various  sexual  excesses.  The  temptation  is  great  to 
overlook  the  obvious — the  tout  comme  chez  nous — but  it  must  be  resisted. 
On  the  other  hand,  we  must  not  be  biased  by  an  overdose  of  "common 
sense,"  which  is  too  often  but  another  word  for  mental  laziness.  We  must 
not  decree  away  classificatory  terms  as  "polite  modes  of  address"  or 



''slovenly  speech  habits,"  as  has  been  done.  Nor  must  we  discount  sex 
orgies,  relaxations  or  strange  taboos  as  "minor  aberrations  of  savage  super- 

The  functional  anthropologist  regards  facts  as  being  of  equal  value 
whenever  they  really  loom  large  in  native  life  and  social  organization, 
irrespectively  of  whether  they  are  drab  or  amusing — whether  they  appear 
strange  or  familiar  from  the  European  point  of  view.  And  when  these 
facts  consistently  appear  together,  when  they  obviously  form  part  of  an 
organic  whole,  the  functional  anthropologist  is  not  prepared  to  tear  this 
organic  whole  to  pieces  and  then  to  place  the  torn  fragments  on  an  evolu- 
tionary scale.  The  questions  usually  asked  are:  is  promiscuity  the  original 
institution  from  which  marriage  and  the  family  but  gradually  developed;  ^ 
or,  on  the  contrary,  are  the  family  and  monogamous  marriage  the  starting 
point,  and  communal  kinship  and  sexual  laxity  only  temporary  aberra- 
tions? These  questions  are  for  us  irrelevant  and  fictitious. 

The  real  question  is:  what  is  the  relation  between  the  family  and  the  ! 
clan — between  individual  and  classificatory  kinship?  These  are  not  stages  j 
which  succeed  each  other,  and  can  be  found  here  and  there,  accidentally 
mixed  or  overlapping.  It  is  absurd  to  regard  one  of  them  merely  as  a 
"survival,"  the  other  as  an  innovation.  They  are  two  aspects  of  kinship 
which  always  appear  in  conjunction,  though  the  clan  or  classificatory 
side  is  sometimes  almost  in  abeyance.  But  since  they  work  side  by  side 
they  must  fulfil  functions  which  are  on  the  one  hand  related,  on  the 
other  certainly  not  identical.  These  distinct  functions  must  be  discovered 
and  defined.  The  first  and  capital  problem  of  primitive  kinship  is  there-  , 
fore  to  establish  the  relation  between  the  family  and  the  clan,  between  j 
individual  and  classificatory  kinship.  By  solving  this  problem  we  shall  be 
able  to  arrive  at  a  clear  conception  of  kinship— to  define  it  functionally 
in  a  way  which  covers  the  two  phases  and  assigns  to  each  its  respective  il 
place  in  culture. 

With  this  problem,  that  of  classificatory  terminologies  is  obviously  inti-  j 
mately  connected.  If  we  cannot  explain  them  as  a  monstrous  linguistic 
fossil,  as  an  encumbrance  always  dragging  one  stage  behind  in  evolution; 
if  we  have  to  regard  them  as  live  parts  of  language;  we  shall  have  to  ask 
again:  what  is  the  function  of  the  classificatory  principle  of  terminology? 
What  is  there  in  the  actually  existing  social  conditions  of  primitive  man- 
kind which  these  terminologies  express  and  with  which  they  are  cor- 
related? m 

Mother-right  and  father-right  again  cannot  possibly  be  stages  or  shad- 
ows of  stages.  Each  of  them  is  always  associated  with  its  opposite  or 
correlate.  They  are  the  two  sides  of  the  big  system  which  defines  filiation 
in  each  community.  The  real  problem  is:  why  does  such  a  system  always 
involve  an  overemphasis  of  one  side,  that  of  the  mother  or  of  the  father; 



what  does  this  overemphasis  really  mean,  and  what  serviceable  part  does 
it  play  in  social  organization?  And  here  it  is  easy  to  see  that,  since  mother- 
hood is  biologically  the  far  more  important  fact,  it  is  the  paternal  side 
of  kinship  which  presents  the  problematic  facet  of  the  case.  Interesting 
customs  such  as  the  couvade,  psychological  problems  such  as  relate  to  the 
ignorance  of  fatherhood  and  its  social  consequences,  are  among  the  prob- 
lems which  must  also  be  functionally  solved.  And,  once  we  embark  upon 
questions  of  filiation  and  the  counting  of  kinship,  we  are  faced  directly 
by  the  whole  complex  of  problems  concerning  derived  kinship,  that  is, 
the  contribution  of  clans  and  moieties  to  the  cohesion  of  society;  the 
function  of  collective  solidarity;  the  function  of  exogamy  and  of  group- 

These  are  the  pieces  of  our  puzzle  and  on  the  whole  most  of  them 
seem  so  disconnected,  so  ill-fitting,  that  the  natural  reaction  of  the  ex- 
plaining mind  was  to  cut  them  up  into  proper  shapes  and  regard  them 
either  as  stages  or  as  fragments  of  compound  cultures,  trait-complexes 
or  Kultur  Kreise.^  To  the  functionalist,  however,  the  relatedness  of  the 
various  aspects  and  institutions  is  the  most  important  characteristic  of 
culture,  and  here  the  universal  coexistence,  the  dovetailing,  the  obvious 
many-sidedness  of  kinship,  make  us  see  in  all  the  facts  of  sexuality,  mar- 
riage, family  and  clanship  one  integral  institution:  the  Procreative  Institu- 
tion of  mankind. 

What  is  the  main  function  of  this  big  institution?  The  obvious  answer 
is — the  propagation  of  the  species,  but  it  is  easy  to  see  that  the  continuity 
of  culture  is  as  deeply  involved  in  kinship  as  is  the  continuity  of  the 
race.  Let  us  start  with  the  biological  fact,  since  that  is  the  more  tangible 
and  definite.  What  is  the  procreative  unit  in  human  society?  The  answer 
is  so  obvious,  the  fact  that  one  male  must  be  married  to  one  female  in 
order  to  produce  offspring  is  so  patent,  that  the  answer  that  it  is  the 

^The  anthropological  reader  of  this  essay  will  have  noticed  that  the  contributions  of 
the  so-called  Historical  or  Diffusionist  school  have  received  but  small  attention  in  my 
argument.  As  a  matter  of  fact  they  have  been  almost  insignificant,  both  in  quantity  and 
in  quality.  The  treatment  of  the  family  and  kinship  by  the  American  school  is  sound, 
but  it  is  not  historical,  it  is  comparative,  I  should  almost  say  functional.  Here  belong 
the  contributions  of  Lowie,  Goldenw^eiser,  [Edward  Winslow]  Giflord,  Kroeber,  [Clark] 
Wissler  and  Dorsey  and  the  few  but  sound  remarks  scattered  through  the  writings  of 
E.  Sapir.  [Fritz]  Graebner's  and  Schmidt's  method  of  regarding  father-right  and  mother- 
right,  clanship  and  the  individual  family  as  independent  cultural  traits  belongs,  on  the 
other  hand,  to  the  type  of  cultural  surgery  which  is  incompatible  with  the  functional 
treatment  of  human  institutions.  Fortunately  Schmidt  and  Koppers  are  inconsistent,  and 
in  their  last  big  work  {Der  Mensch  aller  Zeiten),  following  E.  Grosse,  they  treat  the 
elements  of  kinship  as  organically  connected  parts  of  a  bigger  unit,  and  even  try  to 
correlate  them  with  economic,  environmental  and  political  factors. 



human  family,  consisting  of  mother,  father  and  child  which  is  the  pro- 
creative  unit,  appears  at  first  sight  an  unnecessary  truism. 

It  may  come  as  a  shock  therefore  to  the  man  in  the  street  when  he  is 
told  that  it  is  really  round  this  question  that  most  learned  anthropological 
discussions  center  and  that,  even  now,  there  is  a  profound  disagreement 
in  the  views  held.  Thus  in  the  latest  voluminous  discussion  on  the  ques- 
tion we  are  told  that  "the  clan  like  the  family  is  a  reproductive  group 
and  not  a  political  organization,"  and  again,  "We  must  dismiss  entirely 
from  our  minds  the  notion  that,  while  the  patriarchal  family  is  a  sexual 
group  depending  upon  certain  intimate  relations,  reproductive  and  eco- 
nomic, the  clan  is  a  group  resting  upon  some  other  principle;  that  while 
the  one  is  a  reproductive  group,  the  other  is  a  social  or  political  organiza- 
tion." ^  Obviously  these  statements  are  paradoxically  worded,  for  the 
author  patently  does  not  intend  us  to  assume,  what  in  fact  he  actually 
says,  that  under  the  clan  system  group  babies  are  conceived  in  collective 
copulation  and  brought  forth  out  of  a  communal  womb  in  an  act  of 
joint  parturition.  Whatever  might  be  the  similarity  between  the  clan  and 
the  family,  the  sexual  relations  as  well  as  the  reproductive  conditions 
within  the  clan  are  carried  out  by  single  pairs. 

The  only  way  in  which  we  can  plausibly  interpret  the  above  conten- 
tion is  that  the  author  does  not  really  dispute  the  fact  that  biological 
procreation  happens  in  pairs,  but  merely  discounts  the  validity  of  this 
biological  fact  as  regards  ties  of  kinship  and  social  relationship.  He  regards, 
in  other  words,  zoology  as  not  relevant  for  social  organization.  It  would 
be  possible  to  imagine  that  since  human  instincts  are  almost  indefinitely 
plastic,  the  communally  constructed  clan  can  completely  replace  the 
biologically  constructed  family.  Though  the  child  is  produced  by  one 
man  and  woman  only,  if  this  child  were  brought  immediately  under  the 
control  of  a  group  of  fathers  and  mothers,  the  early  influences  which 
shape  its  kinship  ideas  and  kinship  theories  would  be  collective  and  not 

If  we  thus  reformulate  Mr.  Briffault's  extravagant  statement  it  opens 
before  us  the  real  problem  of  kinship.^  The  statement  becomes  reasonable. 
But  of  course  this  does  not  mean  that  it  is  true. 

*  R.  BrifTault,  The  Mothers,  Vol.  1,  pp.  xvi,  591. 

^This  indeed  is  the  way  in  which  it  has  been  framed  by  Rivers:  "A  child  born  into 
a  community  with  moieties  or  clans  becomes  a  member  of  a  domestic  group  other  than 
the  family  in  the  strict  sense."  (Social  Organization,  p.  55.)  This  point  of  view  has  also 
been  expressed  by  the  same  author  in  his  hypothesis  of  group-motherhood  (op.  cit., 
p.  192  sqq.)  and  in  his  whole  conception  that  in  the  early  stages  of  development  of 
society  the  clan  filled  that  place  in  social  organization  which  the  family  occupied  after- 
wards. (See,  e.g.,  History  of  Melanesian  Society,  pp.  6-15;  Kinship  and  Social  Organiza- 
tion, p.  75;  article  s.v.  "Kinship"  in  Hastings'  Encyclopaedia  of  Religion  and  Ethics.) 



We  have  thus  to  open  the  question  of  what  the  initial  situation  of  kin- 
ship really  is.  Is  the  child  actually  born  into  the  clan  or  into  the  family; 
is  it  brought  directly  under  the  influence  of  groups  or  of  individuals? 
Are  there  such  things  as  "group-motherhood"  or  "group-fatherhood"  or 
have  we  always  only  individual  mothers  and  fathers,  and  that  not  only 
in  the  biological,  but  also  in  the  cultural  and  social  sense  of  the  words? 

In  laying  down  the  study  of  the  Initial  Situation  of  Kinship  as  the 
capital  problem  of  kinship,  in  demanding  the  exact  analysis  of  the  socio- 
logical configuration  of  the  earliest  experiences,  we  are  doing,  somewhat 
tardily,  for  social  anthropology  what  psychology  has  been  doing  for  the 
study  of  the  mental  development  of  the  individual  in  general;  nor  is  it 
only  psychoanalysis  which  forces  us  back  to  the  cradle  in  order  to  study 
the  formation  of  complexes  and  the  charging  of  the  Unconscious  with 
most  of  its  subsequent  drives!  Behaviorism,  in  showing  that  it  is  the  con- 
ditioning of  reflexes  or,  as  I  should  prefer  to  say,  the  moulding  of  innate 
dispositions,  which  matters  most,  is  also  leading  us  back  to  the  study  of 
the  period  when  this  moulding  takes  place  on  the  largest  scale.  Above  all, 
the  most  important  contribution  to  modern  psychology  and  social  sci- 
ence, the  Theory  of  Sentiments  propounded  by  Shand  and  McDougall, 
demands  that  all  human  values,  attitudes  and  personal  bonds  should  be 
studied  along  the  line  of  development,  with  special  consideration  of  the 
earliest  periods. 

The  concept  of  the  Initial  Situation  of  Kinship,  which  I  first  introduced 
in  my  article  on  "Kinship"  in  the  14th  Edition  of  the  Encyclopaedia 
Britannica,  places  the  emphasis  on  the  study  of  the  first  stages  of  kinship 
sentiments.  And,  indeed,  if  the  study  of  any  and  all  human  sentiments 
must  be  done  along  the  life  history  of  the  individual,  in  a  biographical 
treatment  so  to  speak,  this  must  be  done  in  the  case  of  kinship  above  all 
things.  Because  in  kinship  the  most  typical  and  the  fundamental  process 
is  that  in  which  biological  facts  are  transformed  into  social  forces,  and 
unless  this  be  understood  well,  the  whole  question  is  placed  on  a  false 
foundation  and  we  get  the  chaos  of  controversy  with  which  we  are  faced 
at  present. 

It  is  hardly  necessary,  perhaps,  to  add  that  in  laying  down  the  prob- 
lem of  the  Initial  Situation  we  are  doing  more  than  merely  introducing  a 
concept  and  a  terminological  entity.  In  doing  this  we  are  really  opening 
a  number  of  definitely  empirical  questions  referring  to  the  cultural  trans- 
formation of  the  biological  elements,  sex,  maternity  and  fatherhood;  we 
are  focussing  our  argument  on  the  linking-up  of  courtship,  marriage  and 
kinship;  last,  but  not  least,  we  are  demanding  a  clear  answer  to  the  ques- 
tion as  to  the  relation  between  procreation,  domesticity,  and  the  legal  or 
political  aspects  of  kinship. 

Let  us  then  proceed  to  the  analysis  of  the  Initial  Situation  of  Kinship 



and  try,  through  a  comparative  survey  along  the  widest  range  of  varia- 
tions, to  see  whether  some  general  principles  can  be  established  with 
reference  to  it. 

Maternity  is  the  most  dramatic  and  spectacular  as  well  as  the  most 
obvious  fact  in  the  propagation  of  species.  A  woman,  whether  in  Mayfair 
or  on  a  coral  island  of  the  Pacific,  has  to  undergo  a  period  of  hardship 
and  discomfort;  she  has  to  pass  through  a  crisis  of  pain  and  danger,  she 
has,  in  fact,  to  risk  her  own  life  in  order  to  give  life  to  another  human 
being.  Her  connection  with  the  child,  who  remains  for  a  long  time  part 
of  her  own  body,  is  intimate  and  integral.  It  is  associated  with  physio- 
logical effects  and  strong  emotions,  it  culminates  in  the  crisis  of  birth, 
and  it  extends  naturally  into  lactation. 

Now  what  is  it  that  the  advocates  of  "group-motherhood"  want  us  to 
believe?  Neither  more  nor  less  than  that,  with  birth,  the  individual  link 
is  severed  and  becomes  merged  in  an  imaginary  bond  of  "collective 
motherhood."  They  afiirm  that  such  powerful  sociological  forces  are  at 
work,  such  strong  cultural  influences,  that  they  can  override  and  destroy 
the  individual  attitude  of  mother-to-child.  Is  this  true?  Do  we  really  find 
any  sociological  mechanisms  which  succeed  in  severing  the  mother-child 
relationship,  dumping  each  into  the  group  of  collective  mothers  and  col- 
lective children?  As  a  matter  of  fact  all  these  hypotheses  are  pure  fig- 
ments and,  looking  at  facts  as  we  did  through  the  eyes  of  our  imaginary 
observer,  we  were  led  to  the  conclusion  that  maternity  is  as  individual 
culturally  as  it  is  biologically.  The  point  is  of  such  capital  importance, 
however,  that  we  must  look  more  in  detail  at  the  arguments  by  which 
individual  maternity  has  been  challenged  by  such  writers  as  Rivers  and 

They  have  alleged  that  communal  suckling,  the  frequent  and  indis- 
criminate adoption  or  exchange  of  infants,  joint  cares  and  joint  responsi- 
bilities, and  a  sort  of  joint  ownership  of  children  create  an  identical  bond 
between  the  one  child  and  several  mothers,  which  would  obviously  mean 
that  every  mother  would  have  also  a  group  of  joint  children.  In  these 
views  there  is  also  implied  the  assumption  that  conception,  pregnancy 
and  childbirth,  which  obviously  are  individual  and  not  communal,  are 
completely  ignored  by  society  as  irrelevant  factors,  and  that  they  play  no 
part  in  the  development  of  maternal  sentiments. 

Let  us  examine  the  implication  of  the  group-motherhood  hypothesis 
first,  and  then  decide  whether  a  communal  game  of  share  and  exchange 
in  children  and  infants  is,  or  ever  could  have  been,  played. 

Now,  in  the  first  place,  it  is  a  universal  fact  that  conception,  preg- 
nancy, childbirth  and  suckling  are  sociologically  determined;  that  they 
are  subjects  of  ritual,  or  religious  and  moral  conceptions,  of  legal  obliga- 
tions and  privileges.  There  is  not  one  single  instance  on  record  of  a 



primitive  culture  in  which  the  process  of  gestation  is  left  to  nature  alone. 
Conception,  as  a  rule,  is  believed  to  be  due  as  much  to  spiritual  as  to 
physiological  causes.  Conception,  moreover,  is  not  a  process  which  is  al- 
lowed to  take  its  natural  course  as  a  result  of  prenuptial  intercourse.  Be- 
tween the  freedom  of  sexual  life  and  the  freedom  of  becoming  a  mother 
a  sharp  distinction  is  drawn  in  all  human  societies  including  our  own, 
and  this  is  one  of  the  most  important  sociological  factors  of  the  prob- 
lem and  to  it  we  shall  presently  return. 

Most  important  of  all,  a  legitimate,  socially  approved  of,  conception 
must  always  be  based  on  an  individual  legal  contract — the  contract  of 

Once  conception  has  taken  place  the  prospective  mother  has  always  to 
keep  taboos  and  observe  ceremonial  rules.  She  has  to  abstain  from  certain 
foods  and  carry  out  lustrations;  she  has  to  undergo  more  or  less  compli- 
cated pregnancy  ceremonies;  she  has  to  wear  special  decorations  and 
clothes;  she  is  regarded  sometimes  as  holy,  sometimes  as  unclean;  last,  not 
least,  she  is  very  often  sexually  tabooed  even  to  her  own  husband.  All 
these  ceremonial,  moral  and  legal  rules  are,  by  the  very  nature  of  the 
facts,  individual.  Their  motive  is  invariably  the  welfare  of  the  future 
offspring.  Most  of  them  establish  individual  ties  between  the  prospective 
mother  and  her  future  offspring.  Maternity  is  thus  determined  in  anticipa- 
tion by  a  whole  cultural  apparatus  of  rules  and  prescriptions,  it  is  estab- 
lished by  society  as  a  moral  fact,  and,  in  all  this,  the  tie  of  kinship  between 
mother  and  child  is  defined  by  tradition  long  before  birth,  and  defined  as 
an  individual  bond. 

At  the  crisis  itself,  that  is  at  birth,  the  ceremonies  of  purification,  the 
idea  of  special  dangers  which  unite  mother  and  child  and  separate  them 
from  the  rest  of  the  community,  customs  and  usages  connected  with  mid- 
wifery and  early  lactation — this  whole  cultural  apparatus  continues  to 
reaffirm  and  to  reshape  the  bond  of  maternity,  and  to  individualize  it 
with  force  and  clearness.  These  anticipatory  moral  influences  always  put 
the  responsibility  upon  one  woman  and  mark  her  out  as  the  sociological 
or  cultural  mother  over  and  above  her  physiological  claims  to  that  title. 

All  this  might  appear  to  refer  only  to  the  mother.  What  about  the 
child?  We  can  indeed  completely  discount  Freud's  assumption  that  there 
is  an  innate  bond  of  sexual  attraction  between  mother  and  child;  we  must 
reject  further  his  whole  hypothesis  of  "the  return  to  the  womb."  With 
all  this  we  have  to  credit  psychoanalysis  with  having  proved  that  the 
earliest  infantile  experiences,  provided  that  they  are  not  completely  broken 
and  obliterated  in  childhood,  form  a  foundation  of  the  greatest  im- 

®In  order  to  avoid  possible  misunderstandings  I  should  like  to  remind  the  reader  that 
plural  marriages  such  as  polygyny  and  polyandry  are  always  based  on  an  individual  legal 
contract  betw^een  one  man  and  one  woman,  though  these  contracts  may  be  repeated. 



portance  for  the  later  individual  relationship  between  the  child  and  its 

Now  here  again,  the  continuity  between  prenatal  cares,  the  earliest 
infantile  seclusion  of  mother  and  child,  and  the  period  of  lactation,  which 
in  native  society  is  much  longer  than  with  us,  the  continuity  of  all  these 
experiences  and  their  individual  unity  is  in  primitive  societies  as  great  as, 
if  not  greater  than,  with  us. 

And  this  is  the  point  at  which  we  have  to  deal  with  the  unprofitable 
assumption  of  communal  lactation.  In  the  relatively  small  savage  com- 
munities where  there  occur  perhaps  one  or  two  childbirths  in  a  year  within 
reach  of  each  other  the  idea  of  mothers  synchronizing  conception  and 
pregnancy  and  clubbing  together  to  carry  out  lactatory  group-motherhood, 
at  the  greatest  inconvenience  to  themselves,  the  babies  and  the  whole 
community,  is  so  preposterous  that  even  now  I  cannot  think  how  it  could 
ever  have  been  promulgated  by  Dr.  Rivers  and  upheld  by  Mr.  Briffault. 

As  to  a  "communalizing"  adoption,  in  the  first  place,  even  where  it  is 
most  frequent,  as  in  certain  Polynesian  and  Melanesian  communities,  it 
simply  substitutes  one  maternity  for  another.  It  proves  undoubtedly  that 
cultural  parenthood  can  override  the  biological  basis,  but  it  does  not 
introduce  anything  even  remotely  like  group-maternity.  In  fact  the  sever- 
ance of  one  bond  before  another  is  established  is  a  further  proof  of  the 
individuality  and  exclusiveness  of  motherhood.  In  the  second  place  the 
custom  of  indiscriminate  adoption  is  prevalent  among  a  few  savage  so- 
cieties only. 

We  can  thus  say  that  motherhood  is  always  individual.  It  is  never 
allowed  to  remain  a  mere  biological  fact.  Social  and  cultural  influences 
always  indorse  and  emphasize  the  original  individuality  of  the  biological 
fact.  These  influences  are  so  strong  that  in  the  case  of  adoption  they  may 
override  the  biological  tie  and  substitute  a  cultural  one  for  it.  But  statisti- 
cally speaking,  the  biological  ties  are  almost  invariably  merely  reinforced, 
redetermined  and  remoulded  by  the  cultural  ones.  This  remoulding  makes 
motherhood  in  each  culture  a  relationship  specific  to  that  culture,  dififerent 
from  all  other  motherhoods,  and  correlated  to  the  whole  social  structure 
of  the  community.  This  means  that  the  problem  of  maternity  cannot  be 
dismissed  as  a  zoological  fact,  that  it  should  be  studied  by  every  field- 
worker  in  his  own  area,  and  that  the  theory  of  cultural  motherhood  should 
have  been  made  the  foundation  of  the  general  theory  of  kinship. 

What  about  the  father?  As  far  as  his  biological  role  is  concerned  he 
might  well  be  treated  as  a  drone.  His  task  is  to  impregnate  the  female 
and  then  to  disappear.  And  yet  in  all  human  societies  the  father  is  regarded 
by  tradition  as  indispensable.  The  woman  has  to  be  married  before  she  is 
allowed  legitimately  to  conceive.  Roughly  speaking,  an  unmarried  mother 
is  under  a  ban,  a  fatherless  child  is  a  bastard.  This  is  by  no  means  only  a 



European  or  Christian  prejudice;  it  is  the  attitude  found  amongst  most 
barbarous  and  savage  peoples  as  well.  Where  the  unmarried  mother  is  at 
a  premium  and  her  offspring  a  desirable  possession,  the  father  is  forced 
upon  them  by  positive  instead  of  negative  sanctions. 

Let  us  put  it  in  more  precise  and  abstract  terms.  Among  the  conditions 
which  define  conception  as  a  sociologically  legitimate  fact  there  is  one  of 
fundamental  importance.  The  most  important  moral  and  legal  rule  con- 
cerning the  physiological  side  of  kinship  is  that  no  child  should  be  brought 
into  the  world  without  a  man — and  one  man  at  that — assuming  the  role  of 
sociological  father,  that  is,  guardian  and  protector,  the  male  link  between 
the  child  and  the  rest  of  the  community. 

I  think  that  this  generalization  amounts  to  a  universal  sociological  law 
and  as  such  I  have  called  it  in  some  of  my  previous  writings  the  principle 
of  legitimacy^  The  form  which  the  principle  of  legitimacy  assumes  varies 
according  to  the  laxity  or  stringency  which  obtains  regarding  prenuptial 
intercourse;  according  to  the  value  set  upon  virginity  or  the  contempt  for 
it;  according  to  the  ideas  held  by  the  natives  as  to  the  mechanism  of  pro- 
creation; above  all,  according  as  to  whether  the  child  is  a  burden  or  an 
asset  to  its  parents.  Which  means  according  as  to  whether  the  unmarried 
mother  is  more  attractive  because  of  her  oflFspring  or  else  degraded  and 
ostracized  on  that  account. 

Yet  through  all  these  variations  there  runs  the  rule  that  the  father  is 
indispensable  for  the  full  sociological  status  of  the  child  as  well  as  of  its 
mother,  that  the  group  consisting  of  a  woman  and  her  offspring  is  socio- 
logically incomplete  and  illegitimate.  The  father,  in  other  words,  is  neces- 
sary for  the  full  legal  status  of  the  family. 

In  order  to  understand  the  nature  and  importance  of  the  principle  of 
legitimacy  it  is  necessary  to  discuss  the  two  aspects  of  procreation  which 
are  linked  together  biologically  and  culturally,  yet  linked  by  nature  and 
culture  so  differently  that  many  difficulties  and  puzzles  have  arisen  for  the 
anthropologist.  Sex  and  parenthood  are  obviously  linked  biologically. 
Sexual  intercourse  leads  at  times  to  conception.  Conception  always  means 
pregnancy  and  pregnancy  at  times  means  childbirth.  We  see  that  in  the 
chain  there  are  at  least  two  possibilities  of  a  hiatus;  sexual  intercourse  by 
no  means  always  leads  to  conception,  and  pregnancy  can  be  interrupted  by 
abortion  and  thus  not  lead  to  childbirth. 

The  moral,  customary  and  legal  rules  of  most  human  communities  step 
in,  taking  advantage  of  the  two  weak  links  in  the  chain,  and  in  a  most 
remarkable  manner  dissociate  the  two  sides  of  procreation,  that  is  sex  and 
parenthood.  Broadly  speaking,  it  may  be  said  that  freedom  of  intercourse 

''Compare  article  s.v.  "Kinship"  in  the  Encydopcedia  Britannica,  14th  Edition  [Chapt. 
6  of  Sex,  Culture,  and  Myth];  also  Sex  and  Repression  in  Savage  Society  (1927)  and 
Chapter  VI  of  The  Family  among  the  Australian  Aborigines  (1913).  In  this  latter  the 
relevant  facts  are  presented  though  the  term  is  not  used. 



though  not  universally  is  yet  generally  prevalent  in  human  societies. 
Freedom  of  conception  outside  marriage  is,  however,  never  allowed,  or  at 
least  in  extremely  few  communities  and  under  very  exceptional  circum- 

Briefly  to  substantiate  this  statement:  it  is  clear  that  in  those  societies, 
primitive  or  civilized,  where  prenuptial  intercourse  is  regarded  as  immoral 
and  illegitimate,  marriage  is  the  conditio  sine  qua  non  of  legitimate 
children — that  is  children  having  full  social  status  in  the  community. 

In  the  second  place,  in  most  communities  which  regard  prenuptial  inter- 
course as  perfectly  legitimate,  marriage  is  still  regarded  as  essential  to  equip 
the  child  with  a  full  tribal  position.  This  is  very  often  achieved  without 
any  punitive  sanctions,  by  the  mere  fact  that  as  soon  as  pregnancy  sets  in 
a  girl  and  her  lover  have  to  marry.  Often  in  fact  pregnancy  is  a  pre- 
requisite of  marriage  or  the  final  legal  symptom  of  its  conclusion. 

There  are  tribes,  again,  where  an  unmarried  mother  is  definitely  penal- 
ized and  so  are  her  children.  What  is  done  under  such  conditions  by  lovers 
who  want  to  live  together  sexually  and  yet  not  to  produce  children  is  diffi- 
cult to  say.  Having  had  in  my  own  field-work  to  deal  with  the  case  in 
point,  I  was  yet  unable  to  arrive  at  a  satisfactory  solution.  Contraceptives, 
I  am  firmly  convinced,  do  not  exist  in  Melanesia,  and  abortion  is  not  suffi- 
ciently frequent  to  account  for  the  great  scarcity  of  illegitimate  children. 
As  a  hypothesis,  I  venture  to  submit  that  promiscuous  intercourse,  while  it 
lasts,  reduces  the  fertility  of  woman.  If  this  side  of  the  whole  question  still 
remains  a  puzzle  it  only  proves  that  more  research,  both  physiological  and 
sociological,  must  be  done  in  order  fully  to  throw  light  upon  the  principle 
of  legitimacy. 

There  is  still  one  type  of  social  mechanism  through  which  the  principle 
of  legitimacy  operates,  and  that  is  under  conditions  where  a  child  is  an 
asset.  There  an  unmarried  mother  need  not  trouble  about  her  sociological 
status,  because  the  fact  of  having  children  only  makes  her  the  more  de- 
sirable, and  she  speedily  acquires  a  husband.  He  will  not  trouble  whether 
the  child  is  the  result  of  his  love-making  or  not.  But  whether  the  male  is 
primed  to  assume  his  paternity,  or  whether  child  and  mother  are  penalized, 
the  principle  of  legitimacy  obtains  throughout  mankind;  the  group  of 
mother  and  child  is  incomplete  and  the  sociological  position  of  the  father 
is  regarded  universally  as  indispensable. 

Liberty  of  parenthood,  therefore,  is  not  identical  with  liberty  of  sexual 
intercourse.  And  the  principle  of  legitimacy  leads  us  to  another  very 
important  generalization,  namely,  that  the  relations  of  sexuality  to  parent- 
hood must  be  studied  with  reference  to  the  only  relevant  link:  marriage, 
conceived  as  a  contract  legitimizing  offspring. 

From  the  foregoing  considerations,  it  is  clear  that  marriage  cannot  be 



defined  as  the  licensing  of  sexual  intercourse,  but  rather  as  the  licensing 
of  parenthood. 

Since  marriage  is  the  institution  through  which  the  inchoate,  at  times 
even  disruptive,  drives  of  sex  are  transformed  and  organized  into  the 
principal  system  of  social  forces,  it  is  clear  that  sexuality  must  be  discussed, 
defined  and  classified  in  relation  to  marriage.  From  our  point  of  view  we 
have  to  inquire  as  to  what  is  its  function  in  relation  to  marriage. 

We  have  first  to  inquire,  is  chartered  and  limited  sexual  liberty  sub- 
versive and  destructive  of  marriage  and  family;  does  it  ever  run  counter 
to  these  institutions?  Or,  on  the  contrary,  is  regulated  and  limited  inter- 
course outside  matrimony  one  of  those  cultural  arrangements  which  allow 
of  a  greater  stability  of  marriage  and  the  family,  of  easier  adjustment 
within  it,  and  of  a  more  suitable  choice  of  partner? 

It  is  obvious  that  once  we  erect  chastity  as  a  positive  ideal,  once  we 
accept  the  Christian  principle  of  monogamous  marriage  as  the  only  decent 
way  of  regarding  this  institution,  we  have  prejudged  all  these  questions 
and  stultified  the  whole  inquiry.  And  it  is  astounding  how  even  those  who 
attack  the  institutions  of  Christian  morality  and  marriage  and  regard 
themselves  as  absolutely  free  of  preconceptions,  still  remain  under  the  in- 
fluence of  the  ideal  or  at  least  of  its  pretenses.  Thus  all  sociologists,  from 
Bachofen  to  Briffault,  were  inclined  to  regard  communistic  orgies,  relaxa- 
tions of  the  marital  tie,  forms  of  prenuptial  freedom,  as  "survivals,"  as 
traces  of  a  primeval  sexual  communism.  That,  I  think,  is  an  entirely  v/rong 
view,  due  to  an  involuntary  tendency  to  regard  sexual  intercourse  outside 
marriage  as  something  anomalous,  as  something  which  contravenes  mar- 
riage; a  view  directly  implied  in  our  Christian  ideal  of  monogamy. 

Let  us  look  at  facts  in  the  correct  perspective;  see,  that  is,  how  sexuality 
is  related  to  marriage  in  various  primitive  communities.  Let  us  first 
classify  the  various  types  of  regulation  in  relation  to  marriage.  Those  com- 
munities where  virginity  is  a  prerequisite  of  decent  and  legal  marriage, 
where  it  is  enforced  by  such  surgical  operations  as  infibulation;  where 
wives  are  jealously  guarded  and  adultery  is  a  rigorously  punished  offense — 
those  communities  present  no  problem  to  us.  There  sex  is  as  absolutely  sub- 
ordinated to  marriage  as  in  the  Christian  monogamous  ideal,  and  far  more 
so  than  in  our  Western  practice.  But  such  communities  are  comparatively 
rare,  especially  at  a  primitive  level,  and  generally  we  find  some  form  of 
customary  license  outside  marriage. 

Here  again  we  must  distinguish  with  direct  reference  to  marriage,  which 
really  means  to  parenthood.  Prenuptial  license,  that  is,  the  liberty  of  free 
intercourse  given  to  unmarried  youths  and  girls,  is  by  far  the  most  prev- 
alent form  of  chartered  freedom,  as  well  as  the  most  important.  What  is 
its  normal  course  and  how  is  it  related  to  marriage?  Does  it  as  a  rule 
develop  habits  of  profligacy;  does  it  lead  to  a  more  and  more  promiscuous 



Even  a  study  of  those  forms  which  are  nearest  to  us  and  should  be  best 
known — that  is,  the  prenuptial  usages  of  European  peasants — should  have 
furnished  the  clue  to  the  comparative  anthropologist.  The  German  peasant 
speaks  of  "trial  nights";  he  justifies  his  institution  of  Fensterln  (window- 
ing, i.e.,  entering  through  the  window)  by  the  commonsense  axiom  that 
unless  he  has  full  sexual  experience  of  his  future  bride  he  is  unable  to  make 
a  sound  empirical  choice.  The  same  view  is  taken  by  the  savage  Melanesian, 
by  the  West  African,  by  the  Bantu,  and  by  the  North  American  Indian; 
last,  but  not  least,  by  some  of  the  new  generation — young  intellectuals. 
We  have,  therefore,  in  prenuptial  license,  in  the  first  place,  an  institu- 
tionalized method  of  arranging  marriage  by  trial  and  error. 

And  this  is  by  no  means  a  mere  pretense,  though  often  the  desire  for 
trial  leads  to  errors.  In  fact,  however,  the  general  course  of  prenuptial 
intrigue  conforms  naturally  to  the  pattern  of  the  principle.  The  number 
of  intrigues  does  not  increase,  the  appetite  for  change  and  variety  does  not 
grow  with  experience.  On  the  contrary,  with  age  and  a  ripening  insight 
into  the  nature  of  sexual  relations,  two  definite  phenomena  occur.  On  the 
one  hand  the  character  of  the  intrigues  changes:  they  become  stronger  and 
deeper.  New  elements  enter  into  them;  the  appreciation  of  personaUty  and 
the  integration  of  erotic  attraction  with  the  spiritual  character  of  the 
lover.  On  the  other  hand,  and  correlated  with  the  first  process,  we  find 
that  the  mere  attraction  of  sexual  experiences  loses  a  great  deal  of  its 

We  see,  therefore,  that  if  we  look  at  prenuptial  sexuality  in  a  dispas- 
sionate sociological  spirit,  and  if  we  contemplate  it  in  its  relation  to  mar- 
riage, we  find  that  it  fulfils  two  functions.  It  serves  as  an  empirical 
foundation  to  a  mature,  more  spiritual  choice  of  a  mate,  and  it  serves  to 
drain  off  the  cruder  sexual  motives  from  affection  and  attraction.  It  is 
thus,  on  the  one  hand,  the  sowing  of  wild  oats,  on  the  other  a  trial-and- 
error  method  of  concluding  marriage. 

If  we  look  at  the  relaxations  of  the  matrimonial  bond  we  see  that  they 
fulfil  a  not  altogether  dissimilar  function.  There  is  the  temporary  exchange 
of  wives.  We  find  it  in  wife-lending  at  tribal  feasts  or  during  the  occur- 
rence of  catastrophes;  in  the  institution  of  pirrauru  in  Central  Australia; 
in  the  prolonged  wife-lending  among  the  Eskimos  or  in  Siberia.  Such 
customs  simply  mean  that  from  time  to  time  a  man  and  a  woman  already 
married  are  allowed  to  have  sexual  experiences  with  other  people. 

Sexual,  let  us  keep  in  mind,  is  not  synonymous  with  conjugal,  though 
the  polite  parlance  of  puritanic  hypocrisy  has  made  it  so.  Temporary  co- 
habitation, above  all,  never  implies  community  of  children.  Its  function 
consists,  in  the  first  place,  in  that  it  once  more  satisfies  in  an  approved, 
licensed  way  the  desire  for  change  which  is  inherent  in  the  sexual  impulse. 
In  the  second  place  it  sometimes  leads  to  the  discovery  that  the  new, 
temporary  partnership  is  more  suitable,  and  so,  through  divorce,  it  leads 



to  a  marriage  on  the  whole  more  satisfactory.  Here,  again,  postmarital 
extra-connubial  sexuality  is  an  arrangement  both  of  trial  and  error,  and 
also  a  safety  vent.  The  first  function  is  more  prominent  in  the  standardized 
forms  of  wife-lending  for  more  prolonged  periods;  the  second,  in  the 
occasions  of  orgiastic  license  at  big  tribal  festivals,  where  often  many  of 
the  usual  bonds  and  restrictions  are  suspended. 

We  see,  then,  that  the  regulated  forms  of  nonconjugal  intercourse,  far 
from  being  adverse  to,  and  subversive  of  marriage,  are  its  adjuncts  and 
adjuvants.  They  allow  a  greater  selectiveness;  a  selectiveness  in  which 
compatibility  is  established  as  well  as  cruder  sexuality  eliminated.  They 
allow,  therefore,  of  the  conclusion  of  marriages  based  on  an  affinity  of 
character  combined  with  sexual  compatibility.  They  eliminate,  also,  from 
the  institution  of  marriage  the  disruptive  forces  of  sex  which  come 
from  unsatisfied  intercourse,  monotonous  and  one-sided  satisfaction.  They 
counterbalance,  therefore,  the  repressive  forces  of  the  strict  matrimonial 
discipline  of  sex. 

For  it  is  important  to  realize  clearly  that  in  savage  societies  sexual 
repression  is  as  rigid  and  definite  as  sexual  license  is  clear  and  prescriptive. 
The  savage  is  by  no  means  untrammeled  sexually.  The  difference  between 
civilized  and  savage  codes  lies,  in  fact,  in  a  greater  definiteness  of  the 
latter — though  even  here  I  would  not  like  to  be  dogmatic.  At  any  rate, 
in  a  community  where,  by  rules  of  exogamy,  one-half,  or  at  least  a  con- 
siderable number,  of  all  the  women  are  not  lawful  as  wives  or  lovers; 
where  the  taboos  of  occupation,  of  status,  of  family  and  of  special  oc- 
casions considerably  restrict  the  opportunities  of  intercourse;  in  communi- 
ties where  there  exists  the  severest  code  of  conduct  in  public  and  private, 
imposed  upon  husband  and  wife,  brother  and  sister,  and  people  standing 
in  definite  kinship  relations — in  such  communities  it  is  clear  that  repression 
acts  with  at  least  as  great  a  force  as  with  us.  And  this  means  that  the 
forces  of  reaction  against  the  trammels  and  restraints  imposed  by  society 
are  very  powerful.  Thus  sex,  throughout  humanity,  is  regulated;  there 
are  restrictions  as  well  as  liberties  and  the  institutions  which  allow  of  the 
latter  can  only  be  understood  in  their  function  when  we  refer  them  to  the 
fundamental  procreative  institutions — those  of  the  family  and  marriage. 

We  see,  therefore,  that  parenthood  and  marriage  furnish  the  key  to  the 
functional  understanding  of  regulated  sexuaUty.  We  see  that  sexual  regu- 
lations, the  liberties  and  the  taboos,  constitute  the  road  to  marriage  and  the 
way  of  escape  from  its  too  rigid  bonds  and  consequent  tragic  complica- 
tions. The  sexual  impulse  has  to  be  selective  in  human  as  well  as  in  animal 
communities,  but  its  selectiveness  under  culture  is  more  complicated  in 
that  it  has  to  involve  cultural  as  well  as  biological  values.  Trial  and  error 
are  necessary  and  with  this  is  definitely  connected  the  interest  in  varia- 
tion and  impulse  towards  novelty.  To  satisfy  the  fundamental  function 
of  sex  we  have  the  institution  which  makes  full  sex,  that  is  parenthood. 



exclusive  and  individual.  To  satisfy  the  correlated  selective  components  of 
sex,  we  have  the  dependent  institutions  of  regulated  license.  To  sum  up, 
we  have  found  that  parenthood  gives  us  the  key  to  marriage,  through  the 
principle  of  legitimacy,  and  that  marriage  is  the  key  to  a  right  understand- 
ing of  sexual  customs.  It  may  be  added  at  once  that  the  dissociation  of 
some  sexual  experiences  from  the  primitive  idea  of  marriage,  coupled  with 
the  real  interrelation  of  the  two,  yields  to  the  sociologist  an  interesting 
background  for  the  consideration  of  modern  problems  of  sexuality,  mar- 
riage and  divorce. 

The  principle  of  legitimacy  has  led  us  to  the  consideration  of  sex  in  its 
relation  to  marriage,  and  brought  us  to  the  functional  definition  of  sexual 
excesses  as  component  parts  of  the  integral  procreative  institution.  All  this 
hinges,  of  course,  on  the  fact  that  sex  leads  to  conception,  but  that  since 
sex  and  conception  are  not  absolutely  linked  together,  they  can  be  cul- 
turally dissociated  in  more  than  one  way.  The  whole  question  possesses, 
however,  one  aspect  which  is  of  the  greatest  sociological  importance  and 
upon  which  we  have  barely  touched  so  far.  This  is  the  native  theory  of 
procreation  and  the  sociological  consequences  of  this  theory. 

In  the  first  place  the  degree  of  knowledge  about  the  physiology  of 
procreation  varies  considerably  from  one  culture  to  another,  as  we  saw 
with  the  help  of  our  imaginary  observer.  From  an  almost  absolute  igno- 
rance of  physiological  paternity  we  pass  to  an  extreme  overemphasis  of  the 
part  played  by  the  semen  in  procreation;  from  highly  complicated  animis- 
tic theories  as  to  what  happens  when  the  new  being  is  prepared  in  the 
spiritual  world  for  the  present  one,  to  an  almost  complete  unconcern  with 
the  whence  of  human  life;  from  a  great  sociological  influence  of  those 
ideas  to  a  complete  disconnection. 

Theories  vary,  legal  ideas  are  more  or  less  linked  up  with  the  dogmatic 
views,  but,  as  subject  matter,  all  these  facts  are  to  the  functional  anthro- 
pologist of  paramount  importance.  The  views  about  procreation  may  or 
may  not  be  a  relevant  social  force.  Where  they  are,  they  show  the  extreme 
importance  of  mythological  and  animistic  foundations  in  a  legal  system. 
The  modern  anthropologist  has  once  more  to  claim  the  functional  study 
of  such  beliefs  as  against  their  treatment  in  the  light  of  mere  curiosity. 
In  my  investigations  of  the  matrilineal  system  in  the  Trobriand  Islands, 
I  found  that  the  whole  doctrine  of  matrilineal  identity  in  kinship  is  based 
on  the  natives'  theory  of  procreation.  I  found  also  that  the  important 
sociological  part  played  by  the  father  is  based  on  certain  secondary,  deriva- 
tive views  as  to  paternal  influence  upon  the  offspring  in  its  embryonic 
state.  (Compare  The  Sexual  Life  of  Savages,  Chap.  VII.) 

The  whole  theory  of  paternity,  its  dependence  upon  a  direct  physiological 
bond  between  father  and  child  or  merely  upon  the  bond  indirectly  estab- 
lished between  father  and  offspring  through  marriage — this  theory  should 



be  studied  in  functional  connection  with  the  various  taboos,  ritual  ob- 
servances, ceremonial,  magical,  economic  and  legal  acts  performed  by  the 
father  at  conception,  during  pregnancy  and  at  childbirth.  The  famous 
custom  of  the  couvade  will  naturally  occur  to  every  reader  in  this  connec- 
tion; the  custom,  that  is,  in  which  the  husband  mimics  the  pangs  and 
vicissitudes  of  childbirth.  But  the  couvade,  if  we  place  it  in  its  setting  of 
cognate  phenomena,  is  but  one  of  a  whole  series  of  customs  which  shows 
that  the  father  has  a  number  of  legal  and  magical  obligations  to  fulfil, 
and  that,  in  performing  them,  he  works  for  the  welfare  of  his  offspring 
and  his  wife.  In  other  words,  from  the  functional  point  of  view,  all  those 
customs  which  we  might  label  as  belonging  to  the  couvade  type  are  an 
exact  parallel  to  those  which  establish  cultural  maternity. 

"We  see  thus  that  individual  paternity,  as  well  as  individual  maternity, 
is  established  by  a  whole  series  of  customs  and  rites;  that,  although 
maternity  is  the  more  important  biological  fact,  both  parents  are  connected 
with  the  child  through  a  culturally  determined  relationship.  This  cultural 
relationship,  however,  is  not  artificial,  in  the  sense  that  it  should  be  inde- 
pendent of  natural  inclination.  The  traditional  usages,  the  taboos,  the 
magical  rites,  which  in  an  anticipatory  manner  secure  the  welfare  of  the 
child,  express  the  natural  emotions  of  both  parents.  Wherever  observations 
on  the  subjective  side  of  the  question  have  been  made,  it  has  been  found 
that  both  prospective  parents  love  their  offspring  in  anticipation,  that  they 
are  interested  in  it  from  the  moment  of  its  birth,  that  they  bestow  on  it 
the  tenderest  cares  and  most  lavish  affection  during  infancy. 

For  the  child  is  linked  to  both  its  parents  by  the  unity  of  the  household 
and  by  the  intimacy  of  daily  contacts.  In  most  communities  both  parents 
have  to  look  after  it,  to  nurse  it  and  to  tend  it.  The  father  may,  in  extreme 
matriarchal  communities,  be  legally  the  guest  and  the  stranger  in  his  wife's 
house;  he  may  be  regarded  as  being  of  an  entirely  different  bodily  sub- 
stance from  his  child;  yet  he  loves  it  and  looks  after  it  almost  as  tenderly 
as  the  mother  does. 

Thus  the  initial  situation  of  kinship,  both  culturally  and  biologically, 
consists  in  individual  parenthood  based  on  marriage.  Parenthood,  in  human 
societies,  is  not  merely  a  biological  fact,  but  it  is  just  in  its  cultural  defini- 
tion that  we  find  the  greatest  emphasis  on  the  individual  relationship,  that 
is,  on  individual  paternity  and  maternity.  We  have  answered  thus  the 
problem  and,  in  answering  it,  we  have  shown  that  we  have  not  merely 
introduced  a  new  term — initial  situation — but  that  this  has  led  us  to 
the  discovery  of  the  principle  of  legitimacy,  to  a  new  treatment  of  sex- 
uality in  reference  to  marriage,  and  to  the  investigation  of  native  theories 
of  procreation  as  related  to  social  organization  and  legal  systems. 

With  the  conclusion  that  parenthood,  as  determined  by  cultural  as  well 
as  by  biological  forces,  constitutes  the  Initial  Situation  of  Kinship,  we 



have  laid  our  foundation  but  we  have  not  completed  our  task.  The 
importance  of  the  initial  situation  consists  in  its  influence,  in  its  controlling 
power  over  the  later  life  of  the  individual  and  upon  the  formation  of  the 
wider  social  ties.  It  is  in  the  relation  of  parenthood  to  the  other  forms  of 
social  grouping  that  the  real  problem  of  kinship  consists. 

Modern  psychologists  agree  that  parenthood,  as  the  dominant  influence 
of  infancy,  forms  the  character  of  the  individual  and  at  the  same  time 
shapes  his  social  attitudes,  and  thus  places  its  imprint  upon  the  constitution 
of  the  whole  society.  But  to  show  how  this  actually  happens  is  really  a 
sociological  task. 

The  Social  Anthropologist  who  studies  the  formation  of  primitive  kin- 
ship ties  must  follow  parenthood  to  its  furthest  ramifications.  He  must 
show  the  weanings,  the  extensions,  the  ebbing  and  strengthening  of  the 
ties.  He  must  establish  the  final  triumph  of  parenthood  as  the  only  stable 
force  working  right  throughout  life,  as  the  pattern  of  most  relations,  as 
the  foundation  on  which  even  the  religious  cults  and  dogmatic  conceptions 
of  a  community  are  based. 

The  human  family  is  not  merely  a  procreative  institution.  The  earliest 
cares  gradually  but  surely  shade  into  the  training  of  the  child's  own 
impulses.  From  this  early  training  in  such  elementary  matters  as  cleanli- 
ness, safety,  the  use  of  its  limbs,  voice,  etc.,  education  proceeds  to  the 
teaching  of  manual  craftsmanship,  and  later  again,  the  imparting  of 
tradition  and  social  rules. 

The  initial  situation,  based  on  physiological  facts  and  innate  impulses, 
thus  gradually  ripens  into  cultural  education.  The  mother  is  an  invariable 
agent  in  all  this:  the  father  usually  stands  by  her  as  an  almost  equivalent 
helpmate,  though  at  times  his  role  is  much  less  significant.  The  most 
burdensome  form  of  human  codperation,  the  training  of  the  young  by  the 
old,  is  bound  up  with  the  tenderness  and  affection  which  comes  from 
maternity  and  which  seems  somewhat  mysteriously  associated  with  father- 

The  training  of  body  and  mind,  the  transmission  of  standardized  be- 
havior and  moral  ideals  in  skill,  knowledge  and  values,  must  go  hand  in 
hand  with  the  transmission  of  material  goods.  To  teach  craft  you  have  to 
provide  the  tools,  to  instruct  in  magic  you  have  to  part  with  your  secret 
formulae  and  procedures.  To  impart  your  family  tradition  and  the  privi- 
leges of  your  status  you  have  to  transmit  rank,  position,  even  social 

®  The  innate  tenderness  of  the  father  seems  to  me  to  be  derived  from  his  social  role 
of  guardian  of  the  woman  during  her  pregnancy,  rather  than  from  some  mysterious 
instinct  which  would  allow  a  man  to  identify  a  child  produced  by  his  semen.  Compare 
my  Sex  and  Repression  in  Savage  Society,  p.  214;  The  Sexual  Life  of  Savages,  Chap.  VII. 
Compare  also  Bertrand  Russell's  Marriage  and  Morals,  where  this  point  of  view  has  been 



identity.  In  this  last  case,  unless  you  transmit  social  status,  the  passing  on 
of  its  traditional  definition  is  worthless. 

Thus  education,  sooner  or  later,  leads  to  the  handing  over  of  material 
possessions,  of  social  privileges,  of  a  great  part  of  one's  moral  identity. 
And  here  the  first  break  occurs  in  the  simple  direct  growth  of  the  family 
relationships.  In  some  societies  the  father  has  to  step  back  when  it  comes 
to  the  most  important  moral  and  sociological  education,  he  has  to  let  his 
wife's  brother  instruct  his  children  and  hand  over  to  them  what  might  be 
called  "social  continuity."  The  father  is,  in  such  cases,  never  completely 
replaced  by  the  mother's  brother.  He  is  still  the  head  of  the  household,  but 
an  important  duality  begins  in  the  allegiance  and  in  the  social  duties  and 
obligations  of  the  child. 

In  societies  where  kinship  is  counted  through  the  father  the  distortion 
is  less  obvious,  at  least  to  European  eyes.  But,  on  the  one  hand,  in  some 
societies  on  a  primitive  level,  the  father's  sister  very  often  assumes  an 
important  place  as  a  female  counterpart  of  the  father,  and  on  the  other 
hand,  in  all  such  societies,  the  relation  to  maternal  relatives  becomes  ir- 
relevant and  there  is  a  one-sided  overemphasis  of  the  father's  line.  Most 
important  of  all,  the  father,  in  pronouncedly  patriarchal  communities, 
changes  his  role.  From  the  tender  and  often  indulgent  parent,  which 
he  was  to  the  small  child,  he  becomes  the  autocrat  of  the  household, 
the  wielder  of  the  patria  potestas,  and  often  at  times  a  tyrant,  while  the 
mother's  brother  acts  as  the  friend  and  tender  male  helpmate  of  the 

Thus,  while  the  early  cares  and  physiological  dependence  on  parenthood 
lead  to  education  and  this  again  to  the  transmission  of  social  identity, 
privileges  and  possessions,  a  serious  shock  occurs  at  this  stage  of  the  simple 
process.  And,  indeed,  it  is  usually  a  shock  even  in  the  manner  in  which  it 
is  carried  out.  At  times  children  are  forcibly  removed  from  their  home  and 
brought  to  that  of  their  grandparents,  as  among  the  Southern  Bantu,  or 
placed  in  special  bachelor  houses  or  men's  club  houses  or  sent  to  another 
village.  Or  again,  while  they  live  at  home,  they  may  have  to  carry  on 
certain  more  or  less  easy  tasks  under  a  new  authority,  that  of  the  village 
headman  or  totemic  chief,  and  submit  to  a  new  routine,  if  not  discipline. 
The  typical  form,  however,  in  which  the  severance  of  the  child  from  the 
home  and  the  impression  of  new  kinship  ideas  takes  place,  are  the  initia- 
tion ceremonies.  There,  passing  through  ordeals,  seclusion  and  privations, 
the  child  is  weaned  from  home,  from  the  influence  above  all  of  the  mother, 
and  instructed  in  clan  mythology  and  clan  morality.  At  the  same  time  he 
forms  new  bonds,  finds  himself  a  member  of  an  Age  Grade  or  other  male 
j  organization,  but  above  all,  when  there  is  a  clan,  he  is  taught  the  solidarity 
and  unity  of  this  group,  of  which  he  is  now  a  full  member.  Later  in  life, 
j  it  may  be  added,  marriage  constitutes  a  violent  wrench  in  the  whole  kin- 
ship outlook  of  both  sexes,  though  more  so  in  the  case  of  a  girl. 



With  all  this  the  family  bonds  are  never  completely  destroyed:  they  are 
only  profoundly  modified  and  overlaid  by  other  associations.  For  the  series 
of  shocks  by  which  the  bilateral  family  kinship  becomes  transformed  into 
wider  classificatory  ties  is  associated  with  another  series  of  what  might 
be  called  reconstructive  processes. 

When  weaning,  which  takes  place  late  in  life  in  primitive  societies,  is 
over,  the  child,  who  may  have  been  sent  away  from  home  or  during  the 
process  forcibly  kept  from  contact  with  the  mother,  returns  to  her,  and, 
though  weaned,  continues  to  be  dependent  on  her  for  food.  Again  at 
initiation  the  mother  may  be  directly  reviled  and  discredited  to  the  son. 
He  may  even  be  permanently  kept  from  home  after  the  ceremonies  are 
over.  This  profoundly  modifies  his  relation  to  the  mother,  to  the  home  and 
to  his  whole  early  kinship  horizon.  And  yet,  he  maintains  close,  strongly 
emotional,  though  perhaps  surreptitious,  relations  with  his  mother;  his 
old  home  remains  the  only  family  circle  to  which  he  belongs  and  to  which 
he  frequently  returns;  probably  he  still  feeds  at  home  or  is  sent  food  from 
home.  Again,  when,  under  mother-right,  the  maternal  uncle  replaces  the 
father  as  regards  authority  and  influence,  the  paternal  relationship  is  deeply 
changed.  Yet  the  father  becomes  often  even  more  of  a  friend,  a  private 
adviser  and  a  real  helper;  and  very  often  a  whole  body  of  usages  grows 
up  which  compensate  to  a  large  extent  for  the  loss  of  authority.  At 
marriage  the  man  or  woman  enters,  or  rather  creates  a  new  household, 
but  both  the  old  households  still  remain  homes  to  husband  and  wife.  As 
grandparents'  homes  they  are  open  to  their  offspring.  Even  at  death  the 
parental  tie  is  not  broken,  as  we  already  know. 

Thus  the  primary  bonds  of  parenthood  grow  and  mature  and  retain  to 
the  last  some  of  the  original  pattern.  We  might  almost  call  this  growth 
of  bilateral  ties  natural  because  it  continues  in  direct  pursuance  of  physio- 
logical facts,  because  it  is  based  on  the  emotional  readiness  of  the  parents 
to  help  their  children  and  on  the  correlated  response  of  children  to  parents. 

But  parenthood  asserts  itself  in  yet  a  different  manner.  The  configura- 
tion of  the  child's  own  household,  as  it  consists  of  his  father  and  mother, 
of  his  brothers  and  sisters,  is  repeated  all  around  him.  As  soon  as  or  even 
before  he  has  become  an  active  and  effective  member  of  his  household,  he 
is  received  into  the  households  of  his  grandparents,  of  the  brothers  and 
sisters  of  his  parents.  He  thus  forms  new  ties  in  virtue  of  his  relationship 
to  father  and  mother  and  very  much  on  the  same  pattern  as  his  own  family 
ties  are  formed.  The  household  is  thus  the  workshop,  so  to  speak,  where 
kinship  ties  are  built. 

The  formation  of  the  new  ties,  in  the  sense  in  which  we  are  speaking 
now,  is  essentially  individual.  Thus,  one  of  the  nearest  relatives  outside  the 
own  household  is  invariably  the  mother's  sister.  This  woman  often  assists  at 
childbirth,  helps  the  mother  during  the  first  few  days  when  the  infant 
needs  most  care  and  attendance,  often  visits  the  household,  in  case  of  the 



mother's  illness  takes  charge  of  the  child.  She  is  in  short  an  assistant 
mother,  or  substitute  mother.  In  matrilineal  communities  she  would  be 
the  person  who,  legally,  would  replace  the  mother  in  the  case  of  her  death 
or  inability  to  look  after  the  child.  In  patrilineal  societies  this  part  might 
be  played  by  the  wife  of  the  father's  brother,  very  rarely  only  by  the 
father's  sister.  But  in  any  case  the  nearest  relatives  of  both  mother  and 
father  are,  to  the  child,  secondary  parents. 

It  must  be  remembered  that  in  primitive  societies  any  form  of  what 
might  be  called  ''social  insurance" — that  is,  organized  assistance  and  re- 
placement in  case  of  death  or  misadventure,  such  as  we  have  in  the 
charitable  and  benevolent  institutions  of  civilized  communities — can  only 
be  done  directly  and  personally.  We  see,  accordingly,  in  primitive  societies, 
an  extraordinary  development  of  what  might  be  termed  the  substitution 
by  kinship  and  a  definite  system  of  vicarious  duties  and  responsibilities 
devolving  on  the  nearest  of  kin.  This  principle  of  substitution  is  clearly 
seen  in  the  way  in  which  the  children  are  trained  to  regard  the  mother's 
sister  as  a  substitute  mother  and  to  call  her  by  the  same  term  which  they 
apply  to  the  mother. 

The  father's  brother  is  likewise  called  father,  his  wife,  mother;  the 
children  of  the  mother's  sister  and  of  the  father's  brother  usually  are 
named  by  the  same  terms  as  the  own  siblings.  If  we  study  primitive  kin- 
ship terminologies,  not  as  ready-made  products  but  in  the  process  of 
formation  along  the  life  history  of  the  individual,  we  find  that  the  essence 
of  so-called  classificatory  kinship  consists  in  gradual  extensions  on  the  basis 
of  vicarious  substitution.  The  substitute  mother  or  father  is,  in  certain 
respects,  equivalent  to  the  real  one.  He  or  she  appears  in  the  intimacy  of 
the  household,  side  by  side  with  the  real  parent;  he  or  she  renders  to  the 
child  services  similar  to  those  of  the  real  parent,  at  times  replacing  the  real 
parent  and  acting  as  the  substitute.  The  salient  facts  of  this  process  are 
that  the  substitute  parent  resembles  in  certain  respects  the  original  one 
and  that  the  naming  expresses  this  partial  assimilation. 

To  sum  up:  as  the  individual  grows  up  the  process  of  direct  extension 
of  kinship  ties  surrounds  him  with  other  households,  related  to  him 
through  his  parents  and  constituting  what  might  be  called  the  neighbor- 
hood of  kindred.  Sometimes  this  neighborhood  of  kindred  is  directly  on 
the  territorial  basis  and  coincides  with  the  local  grouping  of  households, 
at  other  times  the  kindred  are  scattered  over  a  wide  area. 

We  have  just  followed  the  development  of  the  parental  ties  in  the  later 
life  of  the  individual.  Let  us  now  see  how  the  processes  of  development 
which  we  have  studied  affect  the  family.  Here  an  interesting  generalization 
arises  directly  out  of  the  survey  of  facts:  the  development  of  parenthood 
into  kinship  is  by  no  means  a  simple  process  or  even  one  process.  It  shows 
a  manifoldness  in  which,  however,  two  main  aspects  are  visible.  We  have 



on  the  one  hand  the  consolidation  and  later  the  transformation  of  the 
family  group  and  on  the  other  the  clan.  Let  us  once  more  turn  to  these 
two  institutions. 

In  our  account  of  the  imaginary  observer's  career  we  showed  that  the 
family  would  appear  "so  obvious"  to  him  that  he  might  be  in  serious 
danger  of  overlooking  it.  The  clan,  on  the  other  hand,  is  so  unexpected 
and  recondite  that  he  might  equally  well  miss  seeing  it.  But  once  having 
noticed  it,  he  would  see  in  it  that  strange,  powerful  and  obtrusive  institu- 
tion, which  has  fascinated  generations  of  anthropologists  into  ignoring 
the  family  almost  completely. 

We  are  in  a  position  now  to  discard  the  classical  and  all  too  facile 
solution  that  the  clan  is  a  domestic  institution.  We  know  that  among 
present-day  natives  it  never  plays  the  part  of  the  family,  and  that  it  is 
improbable,  nay,  inconceivable,  that  the  clan  or  any  similar  institution 
should  ever  have  had  a  domestic,  still  less  a  procreative,  function. 

Is  the  clan  then  merely  a  political  or  legal  institution?  This  second 
facile  answer  must  also  be  discarded.  The  clan,  connected  with  classi- 
ficatory  kinship  terms,  pervaded  by  ideas  of  kinship  and  descent  from  one 
ancestor,  is  in  the  psychology  of  natives  intrinsically  based  on  concep- 
tions of  bodily  unity.  Thus,  though  the  clan  is  neither  a  substitute  for 
nor  equivalent  of  the  family,  it  stands  in  some  sort  of  intimate  relation- 
ship to  that  institution.  But  it  is  not  such  a  general  statement  that  we 
want,  but  a  precise  answer  to  the  question  as  to  what  type  of  relationship 
exists  between  the  family  and  the  clan.^ 

Both  the  family  and  clanship  begin  at  home.  When  a  child  is  born  it 
becomes  ipso  facto  a.  member  of  its  mother's  or  father's  clan,  and  all 
subsequent  clan  relations  are  derived  from  this  fact.  But  the  effective  im- 
portance of  clanship  at  birth  is  nil,  while  that  of  parenthood  really  consti- 
tutes the  whole  universe  of  the  infant.  We  have  seen  that  as  he  grows 
up  the  influence  of  the  clan  increases.  With  the  gradual  severance  from 
the  household,  with  his  entry  into  economic  coooperation,  with  his  initia- 
tion into  the  mythological  and  esoteric  lore  of  his  people,  with  his  assump- 
tion of  the  legal  bonds  of  citizenship,  with  his  growth,  that  is,  into  full 
participation  in  the  ordinary  and  ceremonial  life  of  the  tribe,  the  native 

'As  will  be  seen,  the  main  problem  of  kinship  in  my  opinion  is  the  understanding 
of  extended  kinship,  that  is  clanship,  in  its  relation  to  the  family.  I  should  regard  a 
one-sided  over-emphasis  of  the  family  as  almost  as  erroneous  as  that  of  the  clan.  When 
my  friend  Mrs.  B.  Z.  Seligman  writes  about  .  .  the  numerous  conversations  I  have 
had  with  Professor  Malinowski,  spread  over  a  number  of  years,  during  which  he  always 
spoke  of  the  importance  of  the  family  and  I  defended  the  clan"  (Journal  of  the  Royd 
Anthro.  Inst.,  Vol.  LIX,  p.  234),  I  think  that  she  imputes  to  me  too  exclusive  an  attach- 
ment to  the  family.  I  should  like  to  have  earned  the  title  Familiae  Defensor,  but  in 
reality  I  have  for  some  time  past  been  aware  that  the  real  solution  lies  in  the  right  and 
full  appreciation  of  both  sides  of  kinship — the  classificatory  as  well  as  the  individual. 



becomes  more  and  more  clearly  aware  of  the  validity  of  the  clan  and  his 
place  in  it. 

Again,  as  we  have  seen,  parenthood  gradually  changes,  but  we  know 
that  only  very  superficially  does  it  fade  away.  The  mother,  at  first  the 
source  of  all  sustenance  and  protection,  diminishes  in  importance  at  wean- 
ing, at  initiation,  with  the  child's  entrance  into  the  bachelor's  house  or 
girls'  community.  The  father,  at  first  the  only  male  on  the  horizon,  a 
tender  and  loving  parent,  becomes,  in  a  patriarchal  community,  primarily 
the  wielder  of  authority,  while  in  a  matrilineal,  he  has  to  give  over  a  num- 
ber of  his  prerogatives  and  services  to  the  mother's  brother. 

To  all  appearances,  then,  the  clan  grows,  the  family  decays.  The  hy- 
pothesis might  impose  itself  that  the  one  passes  into  the  other,  so  that  the 
family  is  the  institution  of  childhood,  the  clan  that  of  adult  life.  Even 
this,  however,  as  we  know,  is  too  simple  a  solution.  Let  us  then  return 
to  the  life  history  of  the  individual. 

And  here  we  must  make  a  short,  methodological  digression.  The  ap- 
proach to  the  problem  of  kinship  through  the  study  of  the  development 
along  the  life  history  of  the  individual  should  have  been  obvious.  Kinship 
is  the  most  personal  fact  in  human  life  and  an  organic  fact  at  that.  It 
starts  with  birth,  it  grows  and  modifies  as  the  organism  matures,  it  passes 
through  several  crises,  above  all  that  of  marriage.  Even  with  death  its 
bonds  are  not  completely  broken,  for  kinship  is  the  basis  of  ancestor 
worship  and  similar  religious  cults.  Its  treatment  in  this  historical  or  we 
might  say  biographical  way  yields  the  only  really  satisfactory  solution. 
And  yet  this  simple  approach  has  so  far  been  neglected.  The  projection 
of  the  evolutionary  line  of  development  has  completely  bHnded  anthro- 
pologists to  this  straightforward  and  simple  method  which  alone  can 
yield  the  clue  to  all  the  puzzles  and  difficulties. 

We  have  just  said  that  on  a  superficial  view  the  family  fades.  But 
this  is  only  partially  correct,  for  the  family  lasts  throughout  life.  The 
parents  who  start  as  protectors  of  their  children,  become,  in  their  old 
age,  the  wards  and  charges  of  these  children.  At  the  death  of  an  old 
man  or  woman  the  children  are  the  chief  mourners,  and  the  spirits  of 
previous  generations  communicate  primarily  with  their  own  offspring. 

In  fact,  we  saw  that,  at  first,  the  family,  as  a  definite  group,  grows 
rather  than  fades.  The  infant  who  at  first  was  but  a  passive  being  tended 
by  its  parents,  as  a  child,  takes  a  definite  place  in  the  household,  where, 
side  by  side  with  the  mother  and  father,  the  group  is  completed  by  his 
brothers  and  sisters.  This  growth  and  consolidation  of  the  family  con- 
tinues until  a  time  when  it  splits,  so  to  speak,  and  one  side  of  it,  the 
maternal  or  paternal,  becomes  overstressed,  the  other  overruled,  only  to 
assert  itself  in  various  covert  reactions  and  reaffirmations. 

This  twofold  or  split  growth  of  kinship,  or  rather  the  coexistence  of 
two  processes,  is,  I  beHeve,  the  source  of  most  difficulties.  I  maintain 



that  right  through  Hfe  there  is,  on  the  one  hand,  the  process  of  growth 
and  constant  reaffirmation  of  the  simple  bilateral  family  pattern.  On  the 
other  hand,  and  side  by  side  with  this,  there  is  a  breaking-up,  connected 
with  a  unilateral  over-emphasis  of  the  legal  side  of  the  maternal  or  the 
paternal  bond.  The  influence  of  these  two  processes,  in  a  way  antagonistic 
to  each  other,  can  be  traced  in  the  classificatory  terminologies,  in  legal 
systems,  in  sexual  attitudes,  in  what  might  be  called  "complexes,"  that  is, 
reactions  of  individual  feeling  and  even  of  custom  against  the  official  atti- 
tude prescribed  by  tradition. 

Each  process  has  its  special  mechanism.  The  direct  growth  of  the 
family  is  helped  by  the  local  grouping  of  households,  by  cooperation 
within  the  neighborhood,  by  the  fact  that,  for  many  purposes,  the  rela- 
tives of  both  father  and  mother  are  relevant  to  the  child.  Last,  but  not 
least,  by  the  rules  of  incest  which  everywhere  exist  over  and  above  the 
rules  of  exogamy.  The  splitting  and  breaking  up  of  the  family  on  the 
unilateral  principle  and  the  correlated  building  up  of  clan  ties  is  achieved 
gradually  in  some  communities  by  the  teaching  of  the  rules  of  descent 
and  the  introduction  into  tribal  tradition  and  ritual,  or  dramatically  in 
others  at  initiation,  by  esoteric  clan  ceremonial  and  mystery  perform- 
ances, and  by  the  rules  of  clan  exogamy  and  classificatory  terminologies 
and  institutions. 

Thus  kinship,  as  an  integral  system  of  personal  bonds,  is  a  complex 
social  phenomenon.  This  complexity  in  the  growth  of  kinship  has  not 
been  the  source  of  anthropological  troubles  only.  It  is  also  the  source  of 
many  tribal  maladjustments;  of  the  constant  strife  between  clan  solidarity 
and  personal  allegiances,  between  rules  of  exogamy  and  individual  prefer- 
ences, between  the  dominance  of  the  group  and  the  assertion  of  the  indi- 

Marriage  is  a  crisis  and  one  which  affects  deeply  all  kinship  relations. 
Through  marriage  two  individuals  establish  a  new  household,  each  of 
them  acquires  a  new  body  of  relations,  those  in  law,  and  presently  they 
will  become  the  source  of  a  new  set  of  relationships,  those  of  their  chil- 
dren to  the  rest  of  the  community.  But  in  each  new  household  there  is 
repeated  all  that  has  been  described  before  in  reference  to  the  initial 
situation.  There  is  one  set  of  facts,  however,  to  which  some  more  atten- 
tion must  still  be  given,  and  that  is  the  conditions  of  infantile  sexuality 
and  the  rules  of  incest. 

Whether  the  Freudian  is  right  or  wrong  about  infantile  sexuality,  there 
is  no  doubt  at  all  that  the  precautions  as  to  its  future  development  are 
taken  pretty  early  in  primitive  societies.  The  taboos  are  imposed  very  soon 

^*This  duality  of  influences  and  principles  of  conduct  was  the  main  argument  of  my 
two  books  Crime  and  Custom  in  Savage  Society  (1926)  and  Sex  and  Repression  in 
Savage  Society  (1927). 



in  life.  The  prohibition  of  any  sexual  or  erotic  interest  between  members 
of  the  same  household  is  universal.  It  is  independent  of  mother-right  or 
father-right:  the  taboo  embraces  both  parents  under  either  system  of 
counting  kinship.  It  is  also  independent  of  ideas  about  procreation,  of 
the  state  of  morality  in  a  culture,  of  forms  of  marriage  and  of  residence. 
The  taboo  on  incest  is  a  universal  rule  throughout  humanity,  endures 
through  life,  and  is  usually  the  strongest,  most  deeply  felt  moral  prohibi- 

But  even  with  all  this,  great  varieties  obtain.  In  some  communities, 
especially  in  Oceania,  there  is  an  absurd  over-emphasis  of  the  taboo  be- 
tween brother  and  sister.  In  others,  the  mother  and  son  relationship  is 
much  more  strongly  prohibited,  only  very  seldom  is  father-daughter  incest 
regarded  as  an  equally  heinous  offence. 

The  most  important  differences,  however,  are  to  be  found  in  the  exten- 
sion of  incest  taboos.  The  strict  prohibition  obtains  only  as  regards  the 
family  in  the  narrowest  sense.  Beyond  this  a  variety  sets  in,  usually  as- 
sociated with  the  unilateral  counting  of  kinship,  but  even  then  with  an 
extraordinary  number  of  divergences.  The  full  unilateral  extension  of 
incest  gives  rise  to  the  well-known  phenomenon  of  exogamy.  This  rule — 
almost  invariably  associated  with  the  existence  of  clans — lays  down  that 
marriage  must  never  take  place  between  members  of  the  same  clan. 

Exogamy  develops  out  of  incest,  gradually,  within  the  life  history  of 
the  individual.  The  boy  or  the  girl  moves  within  a  number  of  cognate 
households,  those  of  the  father's  brother,  for  instance,  and  the  mother's 
sister.  The  extension  of  kinship  by  direct  growth  on  the  family  pattern 
embraces  both  these  households.  The  offspring  of  both  would  be  addressed 
as  brothers  and  sisters,  they  would  be  the  favorite  playmates,  while  their 
parents  would  be  addressed  by  the  same  terms  as  their  own  parents  and 
felt  to  be  substitute  or  secondary  parents.  But  fairly  early  in  life  a  dif- 
ference would  set  in  and  become  gradually  sharper  and  more  pronounced 
as  the  children  grew  up.  One  household,  under  mother-right  that  of  the 
mother's  sister,  would  become  officially  and  legally  kindred.  The  boys 
there  would  be  legally  treated  as  equivalent  to  the  own  brothers,  while 
as  regards  the  sisters  a  definite  taboo  would  set  in.  They  could  not  be 
treated  in  an  erotic  manner;  from  any  play  which  involved  sexual  inter- 
est, they  would  have  to  be  excluded,  while  on  the  other  hand  they  would 
gradually  assume  a  special  relationship  very  much  like  that  of  their  own 

And  as  life  progresses,  more  and  more  households,  related  on  the 
mother's  side,  would  be  included  in  this  type  of  relationship.  The  family 
terms  of  relationship  would  be  extended  to  all  these  people,  the  com- 
munity of  the  clan  name  and  the  unity  of  common  totemic  descent 
would  unite  all  these  men  and  women  as  clansmen  and  clanswomen.  They 
would  become  legally  united,  under  an  obligation  to  defend  each  other 



in  all  clan  feuds;  owning,  perhaps,  some  amount  of  property  together; 
cooperating  in  enterprises;  jointly  financing  feasts,  wars  and  other  under- 
takings. Above  all,  between  the  men  and  the  women  there  would  obtain 
a  special,  somewhat  constrained,  sober,  non-erotic  relationship— at  least 
on  the  surface,  for  lapses  from  exogamy  are  not  unknown.  And,  in  the 
carrying  out  of  religious  or  magical  duties  the  members  of  the  same  clan 
would  very  often  act  as  one  group. 

Thus  it  can  be  said  that  in  no  other  aspect  can  the  twofold  nature  of 
the  kinship  process  and  the  twofold  character  of  the  products  be  seen 
as  clearly  as  in  the  incidence  of  the  sexual  taboos.  Exogamy  is  the  result 
of  a  one-sided  extension  of  the  kinship  attitude  of  avoiding  sexually  those 
bodily  related.  But  this  one-sided  growth  of  incest  in  no  way  invalidates 
the  full  strength  and  bilateral  character  of  the  original  taboo.  Family 
incest  remains  prohibited  by  an  independent  set  of  rules.  Both  the  proc- 
esses and  the  products  are  related  but  autonomous. 

We  have  arrived  at  the  end  of  our  descriptive  survey.  The  individual 
whose  life  history  we  have  followed  is  now  married,  at  the  head  of  his 
new  household.  He  is  still  attached  to  his  old  family  and  he  stands  in  a 
new  relationship  to  the  household  and  his  wife.  Besides  this,  however,  he 
has  formed  a  whole  series  of  other  bonds.  He  has  contracted  the  bonds 
of  extended  kinship  uniting  him  to  several  households,  directly  related  to 
his  parents.  He  has  taken  over  with  his  wife  a  similar  group  of  her  ex- 
tended relatives.  But  he  has,  above  all,  through  the  consistent  one-sided 
extension  of  ties,  acquired  a  definite  status  in  a  strictly  circumscribed 
group — the  clan. 

As  a  result  of  the  complex  process  of  formation  of  kinship  bonds  we 
see  the  individual  encompassed  by  a  series  of  kinship  rings,  member  of 
several  kinship  groups.  In  the  genetic  sense  the  most  important  of  them 
is  the  family.  But  all  of  them  have  their  respective  functions  to  perform,  I 
and  each  assumes  now  and  then  a  dominant  importance.  Nor  is  their 
multiplicity  devoid  of  complications  and  conflicts.  The  legal  figment  of 
exclusive  kinship  in  the  one  line,  that  is  of  clanship,  is  never  fully  adjusted 
to  and  balanced  with  the  claims  of  the  family.  The  complexity  of  kinship 
is  the  main  source  of  social  troubles  and  maladjustments,  next,  perhaps, 
to  sexual  jealousy,  rivalries  of  ambition  and  economic  greed. 

Our  results  show  up  the  absurdity  of  the  usual  dilemma  in  treating 
kinship:  it  is  not  either  individual  or  communal,  either  the  family  or  the 
clan.  Kinship  in  primitive  communties  is  both  individual  and  collective, 
and  it  is  also  the  kinship  of  the  extended  kindred  group,  of  the  relation- 
ship-in-law — it  presents,  in  fact,  a  multiplicity  of  facets.  We  have  seen 
how  all  this  comes  about  and  to  what  results  it  leads. 

We  have  also  become  aware  of  how  the  multiplicity  of  facets  is  main- 
tained. The  tribal  life  of  a  primitive  people  is  not  absolutely  homogeneous. 



It  falls,  above  all,  into  two  main  phases:  private  and  public,  that  of 
everyday  concerns  and  that  of  ceremonial  activities;  that,  in  short,  of  the 
Profane  and  of  the  Sacred.  Whether  this  distinction  is  absolute,  whether 
it  lends  itself  to  all  the  theoretical  manipulations  to  which  it  has  been 
submitted  by  [Emile]  Durkheim  and  his  school,  is  irrelevant.  But  there 
is  no  doubt  that,  throughout  the  world,  most  of  a  people's  time  is  spent 
in  economic  concerns  on  a  small  scale — in  the  tilling  of  the  soil,  in  hunt- 
ing and  fishing,  in  the  patient  carrying  out  of  craft  and  industry.  This 
type  of  existence  is  dominated  by  the  household:  each  family  work  their 
own  plot  of  ground  or  do  their  own  collecting  of  food;  they  cook  and 
feed  together;  they  spend  a  great  deal  of  their  time  and  take  their 
amusements  within  the  family  circle.  It  is  in  this  phase  of  tribal  life  that 
the  family  is  paramount.  These  Profane  seasons  are  not  any  less  "social" 
than  is  ceremonial  life.  Custom  and  tribal  law  control  and  dominate  the 
individual  side  of  kinship  as  much  as  they  do  the  collective  side. 

But  in  every  tribe  there  are  times  when  the  whole  community  collects, 
magical  ends  are  pursued  and  spiritual  values  reasserted.  Economic  needs 
are  often  satisfied  by  communal  hunting  or  fishing  or  by  feeding  the 
assembled  people  from  a  communal  stock  of  stored  vegetables.  At  such 
periods  sexual  life  is  often  stirred  to  greater  activity  and  since  the 
tribe  is  assembled  on  a  vast  scale,  the  rules  of  exogamy  come  definitely 
into  operation.  This  ceremonial  phase  of  tribal  life  is  dominated  by  the 
institution  of  the  clan.  Clansmen  and  clanswomen  have  often  to  act 
together;  families  are  broken  up  in  the  performance  of  ceremonial  duties; 
and  individual  relationship  is  definitely  subordinated  to  the  classificatory 
principle.  It  is  a  recrystallization  of  the  sociological  system  within  the 
tribe,  rationally  motivated  to  the  adult,  impressive  to  the  youth,  often 
bewildering  to  the  child.  This  dissolution  of  the  family  at  ceremonial  oc- 
casions, as  I  have  often  witnessed  it  myself  in  Melanesia,  is  a  real  and 
powerful  factor  in  the  moulding  of  the  twofold  operation  of  individual 
and  collective  kinship. 

There  are,  of  course,  also  what  might  be  called  intermediate  phases. 
There  is  economic  cooperation  on  a  large  scale,  though  not  yet  on  a 
tribal  one.  This  is  done  by  the  local  group  and  the  ties  of  extended  kin- 
ship usually  govern  ownership,  mutual  help,  reciprocity,  as  well  as  the 
sharing  of  results. 

There  are  the  respective  legal  duties  controlled  by  individual  and  ex- 
tended kinship.  And,  again,  there  is  clan  solidarity  operative  in  vendetta 
and  in  communal  rights  to  objects  of  great  value  or  with  mythological 
claims.  Here  the  clan  once  more  becomes  paramount.  There  is,  finally, 
war  with  all  its  magic  and  ritual  of  declaration  and  peace-making,  and 
here  the  clan  and  the  relationship  between  clans  dominates  the  situation. 

Thus  the  several  facets  of  kinship  function  alternatively  on  different 
occasions,  each  is  correlated,  at  least  in  its  principal  manifestations,  to 



one  phase  of  tribal  life.  Through  all  the  manifestations,  however,  the 
element  of  parenthood  is,  in  one  way  or  another,  ostensible.  It  is,  of 
course,  the  permanent  foundation  of  the  bilateral  family;  it  directly 
affects  the  bonds  of  extended  kinship;  in  one  of  its  sides  it  is  the  starting 
point  and  the  nucleus  of  clan  unity.  And  throughout  the  whole  process 
of  grov/th  and  splitting  of  kinship,  in  all  its  manifestations,  the  influence 
of  the  initial  situation  makes  itself  felt  in  the  classificatory  usages  of  kin- 
ship terms,  first  formed  in  the  family  and  then  gradually  and  succes- 
sively extended  to  all  the  wider  groupings. 

Terminology  is  one  of  the  main  mechanisms  expressing  the  growth  of 
kinship  and  controlling  it.  We  must  still  say  a  few  words  about  it.  I 
have  left  it  on  purpose  till  this  stage  of  the  argument  because  the  study 
of  kinship  words  has  dominated  and  warped  the  study  of  kinship  facts 
to  an  extraordinary  extent.  Words  are  associated  with  kinship  ties  and  in 
a  way  control  them.  But  it  is  impossible  to  understand  the  meaning  of 
words  except  by  correlating  them  to  social  realities,  for  they  are  the 
products  of  social  intercourse  and  they  grow  out  of  life.  It  is  really  in 
the  study  of  their  growth  as  the  by-products  of  the  development  of  per- 
sonal ties  that  we  can  gain  insight  into  their  nature. 

Let  us  face  the  classificatory  puzzle  at  its  very  core — the  terms  used 
for  parents  by  children.  Each  man  addresses  several  elderly  males  and  fe- 
males by  the  same  terms,  father  and  mother  respectively.  Now  we  have 
already  seen  that,  sociologically,  a  man  has  always  one  real  father  and 
one  real  mother  but  that  there  is  a  series  of  people  who  grow  into  his 
life  as  substitute  fathers  and  mothers.  They  become  more  and  more 
diluted,  so  to  speak,  more  and  more  shadowy  in  their  parental  character. 
Yet,  at  times — and  as  regards  the  unilateral  extensions,  which  in  due 
time  yield  the  clan — the  fathers  and  mothers,  the  brothers  and  sisters, 
appear  in  solid  blocks  of  kindred.  But  this  takes  place  only  on  certain 
occasions  and  from  certain  points  of  view.  The  own  parents  dominate 
the  home,  ordinary  life,  most  of  the  emotional  and  personal  interests. 
The  classificatory  "blocks"  appear  at  ceremonies  or  on  legal  occasions. 

How  is  this  sociological  reality  translated  into  linguistic  usage?  To  a 
superficial  observer  it  would  appear  that  only  one  word  is  used  and  that 
consequently  there  is  only  a  group-relationship.  But  better  linguistic  ac- 
quaintance would  show  that  the  word  is  used  in  several  senses  with  each 
time  a  different  accent,  different  phraseology,  and  within  a  different  con- 
text. We  might  speak  of  a  series  of  homonyms — better  even,  of  a  series  of 
words  represented  by  the  same  sound  but,  in  actual  speech,  always  dis- 
tinguishable. The  correct  way  would  be  to  say  that  the  native  word  for 
mother  is  always  "indexed,"  so  to  speak,  by  emotional  inflection,  by  con- 
text and  by  phrasing. 

Now,  native  languages  swarm  with  homonyms.  And  these  are  not  due 



to  the  often  alleged  "poverty  of  language"  or  ''slovenliness  of  speech." 
Most  homonyms  are  significant  metaphors.  Primitive  magic  is  full  of 
them.  The  use  of  simile  and  metaphor  is  in  verbal  magic  what  a  sympa- 
thetic act  is  in  ritual.  We  ourselves  use  kinship  terms,  such  as  father  and 
mother,  in  our  prayers — again  as  metaphors.  What  function  do  such 
metaphors  fulfil  in  our  prayer  and  in  primitive  magic?  They  impose  a 
binding  obligation  on  our  divinity.  We  address  Him  as  Father  so  that  he 
might  be  merciful  and  answer  our  approach  in  childlike  confidence  with  a 
fatherly  response.  The  native  metaphorically  addressing  his  blue  skies  as 
a  Black  Cloud  imposes  a  binding  obligation  on  the  impersonal  forces  that 
be  to  turn  drought  into  rain. 

Can  this  principle  of  binding  metaphor  in  the  use  of  kinship  terms  ac- 
count for  the  development  of  classificatory  terms?  The  native  starts,  as 
a  child,  with  one  meaning  of  kinship  terms,  moulded  on  the  personal 
relationship  within  the  family  which  is  his  initial  situation,  linguistically 
as  well  as  socially.  This  primary  meaning,  later  on,  he  is  taught  to  extend 
to  one  relative  after  the  other.  Roughly  speaking,  the  first  extension  is 
that  of  the  term  so  far  used  only  for  the  real  mother  to  the  mother's  sis- 
ter. This  extension  is  no  more  a  complete  assimilation  of  meaning  than  is 
the  sociological  relationship  of  the  child  to  the  mother's  sister  identical 
with  that  which  obtains  between  it  and  the  mother.  I  have  watched  the 
process  of  this  primary  extension  among  Melanesian  savages  and  have  seen 
how  difficult  it  is  merely  to  induce  the  child  to  use  the  term  in  an  ex- 
tended meaning.  The  child  has  to  form  a  new  meaning  for  the  old  word. 
In  reality  he  acquires  a  new  word  with  the  same  form  but  a  different  sub- 
ject-matter. He  will  use  the  word  in  a  different  manner  and  under  differ- 
ent circumstances.  When,  after  some  resistance,  he  comes  to  apply  the  term 
mother  to  his  mother's  sister,  he  does  not  confuse  the  two  people  nor  mix 
up  the  two  ideas;  he  does  not,  in  other  words,  carry  out  a  complete  lin- 
guistic identification.  By  the  time  the  child  learns  to  use  his  language  with 
discrimination  and  to  get  the  feel  of  it,  he  knows  that  he  merely  empha- 
sizes a  similarity  and  passes  over  the  differences. 

What  is,  to  pass  now  to  our  sociological  terminology,  the  function  of 
this  one-sided  linguistic  emphasis?  Well,  the  similarity  in  the  relationship 
between  mother  and  mother's  sister  is  the  basis  of  all  the  legal  obligations 
of  the  newly  acquired  relative.  It  is  in  virtue  of  being  a  potential  equiva- 
lent to  the  mother  that  the  maternal  aunt  is  under  an  obligation  to  the 
child.  It  is  therefore  this  side  of  the  relationship  which  is  linguistically 
expressed.  We  have  here,  therefore,  a  metaphorical  use  of  the  word, 
though  the  metaphor  here  is  not  magically  but  legally  binding.  The 
partial  equivalence  is  verbally  transformed  into  a  fictitious  identity  be- 
cause this  identity  is  relevant  to  the  child. 

The  same  argument  applies,  obviously,  to  the  direct  extension  of  the 
term  father  to  father's  brother,  and  of  the  terms  brother  and  sister  to 



those  first  cousins  with  whom,  under  a  unilateral  counting  of  descent, 
relevant  kinship  establishes  an  identity  of  substance. 

It  is  interesting  to  note  that  the  twofold  process  of  kinship  growth 
finds  its  counterpart  in  the  formation  of  kinship  terminologies.  Among 
the  people  who  are  directly  kin  to  the  parents  there  are  those  to  whom 
no  direct  extension  of  an  already  existing  kinship  attitude  is  possible. 
Apart  from  the  grandparents,  the  father's  sister  and  the  mother's  brother, 
as  well  as  their  offspring,  technically  called  cross-cousins,  are  usually 
named  by  new  terms  of  kinship.  These  people,  as  we  know,  occupy  so- 
ciologically a  special  position;  they  are  the  people  who  give  the  extra- 
familial  imprint  to  the  process  of  unilateral  over-emphasis.  It  is  impossible 
here,  however,  linguistically  to  follow  up  this  intricate  and  difficult  proc- 
ess in  detail.  We  shall  have  to  be  satisfied  with  having  laid  down  the 
main  principle. 

The  important  thing  is  to  note  that  there  are  phases  of  kinship  termi- 
nology even  as  there  are  phases  in  the  social  reality  of  kinship.  The  native 
vocabulary  in  kinship  is  never  a  homogeneous  whole.  It  is  always  a  com- 
pound of  several  layers:  one  of  them,  the  terms  of  individual  usage, 
corresponds  to  the  primary  meanings  derived  from  the  initial  situation. 
We  might  describe  as  the  second  layer  of  kinship  terminology,  that  which 
results  from  the  direct  extension  to  the  nearest  kindred  of  the  parents. 
There  is  a  body  of  terms  used  to  more  distant  relatives,  traceable  through 
genealogy  and  prominent  within  the  local  grouping.  There  is  the  body  of 
terms  obtained  in  that  sudden  extension  of  relationship  which  comes  with 
marriage.  Finally  there  is  the  system  of  classificatory  usages  applied  to 
the  tribe  at  large  and  describing  this  time  groups  and  not  individuals.  In 
this  last  use,  and  in  this  only,  are  the  terms  really  classificatory.  They 
form  a  very  limited  part  of  the  whole  range  of  linguistic  usages  and  they 
correspond  to  those  phases  of  tribal  life  when  the  clan  exerts  its  sway 
over  the  individual  and  when,  in  ceremonial  or  legal  activities,  clan  faces 
clan  within  tribal  life. 

Bluntly  put,  this  simply  means  that  it  is  nothing  short  of  nonsense  to 
speak  of  any  native  terminology  as  classificatory  in  its  integral  character. 
Native  terms  are  used  in  a  classificatory  way  only  on  occasions.  All  the 
explanations  by  "survival,"  by  the  association  with  group-marriage,  are 
to  us  as  futile  as  the  explanation  by  ''polite  terms  of  address."  Even  the 
laborious  and  learned  correlation  of  classificatory  kinship  terminologies 
with  the  clan  system,  worked  out  by  Rivers,  is  spurious.  For,  in  the  first 
place,  the  classificatory  use  of  terms  never  completely  corresponds  to  the 
clan  division;  and,  in  the  second  place,  the  limited  correspondence  controls 
only  the  one  form  of  use. 

We  have  established  that  the  so-called  classificatory  character  of  native 
kinship  terms  is  the  result  of  a  series  of  extensions.  In  these  the  linguistic 
pseudo-identification  has  a  definite  function.  By  the  binding  metaphor  of 



language  it  gives  expression  to  the  substitution  of  one  relative  for  another 
if  need  be,  and  it  thus  strengthens,  linguistically,  the  system  of  social 
insurance  which  is  the  basis  of  primitive  cohesion.  Here,  again,  we  find 
that  it  is  in  the  relations  of  the  several  layers  within  the  same  system  of 
terms  that  the  real  nature  and  functional  value  of  the  whole  can  be 
established.  Yet  the  very  existence  of  the  stratified  character  of  primitive 
terminologies  has  been  completely  ignored  by  previous  anthropological 

We  have  now  followed  the  development  of  kinship  along  the  line  of 
the  life  history  of  a  typical  primitive  tribesman.  It  was  necessary,  here 
and  there,  to  indicate  the  possible  varieties  which  arise  under  different 
conditions  of  mother-right  or  father-right  respectively,  of  different  sexual 
taboos  and  forms  of  license.  Yet  with  all  this  it  was  possible  to  give  a 
coherent  and  representative  picture  of  human  kinship  on  primitive  levels. 
We  have  demonstrated  that  its  initial  situation  is  in  the  family;  we  have 
shown  the  derived  character  of  the  extended  bonds;  we  have  traced  the 
social  mechanisms  through  which  derivation  takes  place;  we  have  been 
able  to  assign  the  proper  place  to  sex  in  relation  to  marriage,  and  of  mar- 
riage in  relation  to  the  family,  and  lastly  to  define  clanship  and  classi- 
ficatory  kinship  as  the  final  and  most  highly  derived  products  of  parent- 
hood. Throughout  we  were  able  to  arrive  at  a  number  of  sociological 
generalizations;  to  lay  down  a  series  of  laws,  which  define  the  relations 
of  the  various  component  parts  of  the  one  big  system  which  controls  the 
continuity  of  the  human  species  and  of  human  culture. 

Perhaps  the  most  important  of  our  generalizations  is  that  all  these 
phenomena,  sex,  mating,  parenthood,  clanship  and  classificatory  termi- 
nology, can  only  be  understood  if  we  consider  them  in  relation  to  each 
other,  as  parts  of  a  big  procreative  institution.  The  core  of  this  institu- 
tion is  the  human  family:  that  is,  parenthood  culturally  defined  and  mar- 
riage as  a  social  contract.  The  principal  function  of  the  compound  institu- 
tion is  the  continuity  of  the  human  species,  but  in  direct  dependence  on 
this  procreative  function,  the  family  has  to  act  as  the  principal  agency 
in  the  education  of  the  child.  By  education  was  here  understood  the  full 
cultural  equipment  of  the  individual  for  tribal  life  and  the  placing  of 
him  in  the  framework  of  the  community. 

Sex,  we  were  able  to  prove,  is  subordinated  to  marriage,  and  marriage 
is  fundamentally  determined  by  parenthood  in  that  it  is  a  social  charter 
for  the  establishment  of  a  legitimate  family  rather  than  a  license  for 
sexual  intercourse.  Thus,  the  main  function  of  parenthood  consists  in  the 
transformation  of  the  biological  endowment  into  Ufelong  emotional  ties 
and  in  the  making  of  these  into  complex  cultural  forces.  It  is,  therefore, 
the  essence  of  human  parenthood  that,  through  the  building  of  strong 
emotional  attitudes  on  biological  foundations,  it  endures,  it  leads  to  the 



establishment  of  a  lifelong  social  relationship  of  mutual  obligations  and 
services.  This,  however,  since  human  beings  never  live  in  single  families 
but  in  groups  of  them,  entails  the  building  of  new  ties  in  virtue  of  the 
parental  ones  and  directly  on  the  pattern  of  them.  Parenthood,  thus,  is 
invariably  the  starting  point  of  wider  social  relationships. 

Yet  these  extensions,  which  in  many  respects  grow  along  the  natural 
lines  of  the  family  constitution — that  is,  in  following  up  the  kinship 
bonds  of  both  father  and  mother — have  to  be  limited  in  some  ways  to  one 
line  only.  The  transmission  of  material  possessions,  of  status,  and  of  rank, 
is  in  all  human  societies  submitted  to  definite  rules.  The  main  principle 
of  all  such  rules  is  that  one  line  only  of  parenthood  should  be  counted 
as  legally  relevant.  We  have  seen  that  unilateral  descent,  succession  and 
inheritance  are  intimately  bound  up  with  order  and  simplicity,  with  co- 
hesion and  continuity  of  tradition.  At  the  same  time,  once  the  paternal 
or  the  maternal  side  is  legally  over-emphasized  as  relevant  and  the  other 
overlooked,  the  extension  of  kinship  leads  to  the  formation  of  new,  wider 
groupings,  technically  named  clans  or  sibs. 

Thus  the  extension  of  family  ties  takes  place  along  two  channels,  not 
always  clearly  differentiated  in  the  reality  of  tribal  life,  but  sharply  dis- 
tinguishable in  their  functional  determination  and  in  the  effects  which 
they  produce.  We  have  followed  both  processes  and  shown  that  their 
results  correspond  to  their  function.  We  studied,  on  the  one  hand,  the 
gradual  consolidation  of  family  ties:  the  formation  of  new  bonds  in 
direct  extension  and  on  the  pattern  of  the  family;  the  persistence  of  the 
old  household  and  the  grouping  of  other  related  households  around  the 
original  nucleus.  The  product  of  this  process  is  the  consolidated  parent- 
hood as  it  affects  the  mature  individual,  the  extended  family  or  Gross- 
familie;  and  the  bilateral,  genealogically  defined  system  of  kindred  and 

On  the  other  hand,  we  studied  the  second  process  which  begins  fairly 
early  in  life  with  the  traditional  decree  making  one  side  and  one  side  only  ! 
relevant  in  legal  kinship.  We  have  shown  how,  through  a  series  of  acts,  ' 
such  as  initiation  and  other  transition  rites,  with  the  gradual  imposition 
of  tribal  duties,  the  clan  takes  hold  of  the  individual,  principally  in  cere- 
monial and  legal  matters,  but  to  a  large  extent  also  in  economic  coopera- 
tion and  political  aflfairs. 

In  all  this  we  have  seen  that  kinship,  though  it  starts  from  a  common  ■ 
source,  that  of  procreation,  develops  a  number  of  aspects.  Kinship,  in  its 
tribal  or  collective  aspect,  is  by  no  means  identical  with  kinship  in  its  ' 
domestic  aspect.  As  the  ties  extend  in  the  unilateral  process  their  original  ! 
fam.iiy  character  becomes  more  and  more  attenuated  and  diluted  by  other  ' 
ingredients.  In  the  bilateral  process  of  direct  growth  the  family  pattern 
remains  more  permanent,  but  even  there  it  must  be  remembered  that  the  ' 
parental  relationship  is  modified  when  the  child  becomes  an  adult.  But 




though  the  developed  family  of  the  adult  tribesman  has  also  lost  a  con- 
siderable number  of  the  elements  of  which  it  was  made  up  to  the  infant 
and  child,  yet  it  still  consists  of  the  same  people.  The  ties  which  bind 
them  together  are  the  direct  development  of  those  which  in  childhood 
united  offspring  to  parents. 

The  developed  kinship  system  of  an  adult  tribesman,  which  comprises 
both  classificatory  and  individual  ties  as  well  as  several  minor  ones,  bears 
only  a  remote,  at  times  mainly  figurative  resemblance  to  the  family  ties 
as  these  were  in  infancy.  But  in  all  the  processes  which  lead  to  the  final 
kinship  system,  each  new  set  of  ties  is  built  under  the  influence  of  the 
initial  situation  and  as  an  extension  of  it.  We  must,  however,  establish  a 
more  precise  distinction  between  the  component  parts  of  the  compound 

The  primary  and  fundamental  elements  of  the  parent-to-child  rela- 
tionship— the  fact  of  procreation,  the  physiological  services,  the  innate 
emotional  responses — which  make  up  the  family  bonds  vanish  completely 
from  the  relationship  within  the  clan.  Totemic  identity,  the  unity  of 
clan-names,  the  mythological  fiction  of  common  descent  in  one  line, 
magical,  religious  and  legal  cooperation,  are  new  elements  which  enter 
into  clan  relationships  and  which  constitute  the  greatly  modified  kinship 
of  the  clan. 

But  though  the  clan  is  essentially  non-reproductive,  non-sexual  and 
non-parental — though  it  is  never  a  primary  basis  and  source  of  kinship — 
its  connection  with  the  family  is  real  and  genetic.  The  clan  grows  out  of 
the  family  and  kinship  round  one  of  the  parents  by  the  affirmation  of  the 
exclusive  relevancy  of  this  one  parent,  by  the  injunction  of  legal  soli- 
darity with  kindred  of  one  side  only,  often  accompanied  by  legal  fictions 
and  linguistic  metaphors  in  classificatory  terminologies. 

It  is  necessary  to  insist  on  this  fundamental  difference  between  the 
clan  and  the  family  just  because  the  two  institutions  have  been  so  hope- 
lessly confused.  The  clan,  as  we  know,  has  been  defined  as  a  domestic 
institution,  as  the  savage  equivalent  of  the  family,  as  a  reproductive 
group.  But  as  a  matter  of  fact,  the  clan  is  never  an  independent,  self- 
sufficient  kinship  unit.  It  differs  from  the  family  in  that,  by  definition, 
any  type  of  sexual  relationship  is  excluded  from  the  clan;  thus  the 
husband-wife  relationship,  which  is  one  of  the  fundamentals  of  the 
family,  has  no  counterpart  within  the  clan.  Again,  the  relations  between 
the  older  and  the  younger  generations  within  the  clan,  or  between  age 
grades,  are  neither  counterparts  nor  copies  of  the  parent-to-child  relation. 
Above  all,  there  is  nothing,  not  even  a  trace,  of  what  might  be  regarded 
as  reproductive  functions  within  the  clan.  Sex,  as  we  know,  is  rigidly 
excluded,  matrimony  even  more  so.  And  as  we  have  just  seen,  there  is 
nothing  corresponding  to  the  early  infantile  relation  between  parent  and 
child.  The  initial  situation  always  falls  outside  the  clan. 



What  then  corresponds,  on  the  wide,  communal  or  collective  scale  to 
the  family?  The  clan,  as  we  know,  is  in  its  very  inception  based  upon  the 
elimination  of  either  the  paternal  or  the  maternal  side  from  relevant  kin- 
ship. In  the  collective  system,  therefore,  it  is  the  clan  of  the  relevant 
parent  plus  the  clan  of  the  irrelevant  parent  plus  the  clans  related  to  Ego 
by  marriage  and  other  forms  of  affinity — it  is  all  these  clans  which 
together  embrace  the  classificatory  body  of  relatives.  Classificatory  nomen- 
clature always  refers  to  the  tribe  or  to  a  large  part  of  it,  and  never  to  one 
clan  only.  It  is  not  the  clan,  therefore,  but  the  tribe  as  a  correlated  system 
of  clans  which  corresponds  to  the  family  on  the  classificatory  level  of 

With  this  we  are  able  to  define  the  clan  functionally  as  the  institution 
which  standardizes  one-sidedly  the  extended  aspect  of  parenthood.  The 
clan,  however,  unlike  the  family,  is  always  part  of  a  larger  system,  never 
a  self-contained  unit.  The  full  functional  reality  of  clanship  is  only 
achieved  by  the  integration  of  the  clans  as  correlated  units  into  a  larger 
tribal  whole. 

We  can  also,  now,  define  kinship  as,  in  the  first  place,  the  personal 
bonds  based  on  procreation  socially  interpreted;  and,  in  the  second  place, 
as  the  complex  system  of  wider  bonds  derived  from  the  primary  ones 
by  the  twofold  process  of  direct  extension  and  of  unilateral  reinterpreta- 

We  have  now  redeemed  all  or  most  of  our  promises.  We  have  laid 
down  from  the  functional  point  of  view  the  relation  of  the  family  to  the 
clan  and  explained  their  coexistence.  We  have  given  a  functional  defini- 
tion of  kinship,  after  having  ascertained  its  multiple  character.  We  have 
shown  that  the  unilateral  over-emphasis  of  kinship  fulfils  the  function  of 
contributing  to  order  and  continuity  in  the  transmission  of  culture.  We 
have  assigned  a  place  to  sexual  excesses  as  a  trial-and-error  method  of  i 
mate  selection  and  as  a  safety-valve  to  the  natural  experimental  impulse  ^ 
of  sex.  We  have  shown  that  the  function  of  incest  taboos  and  of  exogamy  ! 
is  the  elimination  of  sex  from  sentiments  which  are  incompatible  with  its 
violent  destructive  force  and  its  further  elimination  from  the  sober 
working  partnership  on  which  parenthood  and  clanship  are  based.  We 
have  shown  that  the  function  of  classificatory  terminologies  is  verbally  to 
document,  by  the  legal  force  of  binding  metaphor,  the  obligations  of 
secondary  parenthood  and  derived  relationships. 

In  all  this  there  was  hardly  any  question  of  origins,  of  distribution  or 
diffusion.  The  type  of  explanation  here  given  is  not  altogether  familiar 
even  to  the  modern  anthropologist.  Its  main  characteristic  consists  in 
showing  that  certain  forms  of  social  organization,  universally  found, 
contribute  towards  cohesion,  continuity  of  tradition,  the  interlocking 
multiplicity  of  bonds,  the  better  integration  of  individual  sentiments,  and 



the  more  efficient  working  of  the  social  machinery.  In  the  particular 
case  of  Kinship,  we  were  able  to  show  that  cultural  processes  tend  to 
follow  the  direction  of  innate  biological  drives,  that  physiological  facts 
are  made  gradually  to  ripen  into  sentiments  and  these  again  lead  to  purely 
cultural  institutions. 

The  functional  method  allows  us,  then,  to  establish  the  laws  of  bio- 
graphical growth;  to  place  the  various  elements  of  the  kinship  institution 
in  their  correct  perspective;  to  establish  a  relevant  relationship  between 

Exactly  as  the  correlation  of  efficient  military  organization  with  po- 
litical power,  and  of  large  political  units  with  conquest  are  sociological 
laws;  exactly  as  the  persistence  of  slavery  at  certain  levels  of  culture  can 
be  related  to  industrial  efficiency,  commercial  power,  and  again  to  strong 
political  organization;  so  the  correlation  of  the  multiplicity  of  kinship 
bonds  with  stability,  order,  strong  family  life,  gives  us  relevant  socio- 
logical laws. 

The  functional  method  leads  us  to  a  full  and  comprehensive  grasp  of 
facts;  to  their  correct  description;  to  the  exact  definition  of  the  various 
elements  of  the  problem  and  to  a  detailed  correlation  of  the  various 
phases  of  kinship.  This  it  can  do  and  no  more.  But  without  at  least  a  pre- 
liminary treatment  from  the  functional  point  of  view,  the  anthropologist 
runs  a  serious  risk  of  distorting  facts,  of  defining  them  incorrectly  and 
of  setting  before  himself  insoluble  problems  to  which  he  then  proceeds 
to  give  imaginary  solutions.  This  has  been  the  bane  of  the  Science  of 
Man  and  the  present  attempt,  if  it  does  no  more  than  place  the  problem 
on  a  correct  foundation,  will  have  been  amply  justified. 

With  all  this  I  do  not  want  to  pretend  to  an  attitude  of  false  modesty. 
I  am  convinced  that  the  functional  treatment  is  the  only  really  adequate 
approach  to  the  subject.  The  Jack-in-the-box  explanations  of  all  the  kin- 
ship and  sexuahty  puzzles  appear  to  me  altogether  spurious  and  unneces- 
sary. And  they  are  based,  one  and  all,  on  a  terrible  mutilation  of  facts 
through  an  altogether  unjustifiable  carving  and  lopping.  But,  above  all,  I 
feel  that  in  this  symposium — in  company,  that  is,  with  practical  soci- 
ologists interested  in  the  present  and  future  of  parenthood  and  in  its  past 
in  so  far  as  it  bears  on  the  present  and  future — I  am  really  at  home.  For 
the  comparative  science  of  man  can  be  of  use  to  sociology  just  in  so  far 
as  it  is  able  to  show  the  essentials  of  kinship  and  of  the  family,  of  parent- 
hood and  of  marriage;  the  true  nature  of  sexual  excess  and  of  sexual 
morality.  The  anthropologist  has  scientifically  to  define  the  real  and  ef- 
fective morals  of  marriage  and  parenthood,  that  is,  the  sound  sociological 
laws  which  control  these  institutions.  He  must  show  where  the  family 
comes  in,  whence  it  draws  its  forces,  how  far  it  is  inevitable  and  where 
it  can  be  dispensed  with.  It  is  just  this  type  of  generalization  which  we 
have  been  able  to  achieve  here. 



It  is  clear,  therefore,  that  anthropology  must  supply  the  student  of 
modern  society  not  with  precedent  but  with  sociological  law.  Were  we 
to  prove  that  unbridled  promiscuity  was  the  main  pastime  of  Mr.  Pithe- 
canthropus Erectus  and  his  wife,  this,  in  itself,  could  not  justify  "petting 
parties"  and  certain  similar  institutions.  Nor  need  our  views  on  modern 
communism  or  upon  its  compatibility  with  human  nature  be  profoundly 
influenced  by  the  discovery  that  primitive  forms  of  communism  have  oc- 
curred occasionally  in  early  societies.  The  argument  from  "natural  inclina- 
tion" is  as  spurious  as  that  from  primeval  precedent.  But  if  we  can  prove 
that  marriage  as  a  legal  contract  and  the  family  as  a  culturally  defined 
group  of  parents  and  children,  can  be  traced  through  all  the  changes 
and  vicissitudes  of  history,  if  we  can  show  that  even  license  serves  to 
strengthen  the  family  and  marriage,  our  outlook  becomes  more  plastic 
and  tolerant  and  our  judgment  more  competent.  In  the  first  place,  we 
look  with  a  certain  diffidence  upon  any  attempt  to  subvert  or  reform 
these  institutions  through  any  radical  change.  Revolutionary  decrees  for 
the  abolition  of  the  family  and  for  the  substitution  of  legalized  free-love 
for  marriage  are  bound  to  be  abortive,  for  they  run  counter  to  the  soci- 
ological laws  which  we  have  proved  to  be  universal. 

At  the  same  time  the  mere  stubbornness  of  the  moral  reactionary  who 
does  not  want  even  the  form  of  such  institutions  changed,  who  opposes 
the  discussion  of  divorce,  of  contraceptives  or  of  the  "revolt  of  modern 
youth,"  works  against  the  cause  of  true  conservatism.  For  in  the  first 
place  the  knowledge  of  real  facts  establishes  the  value  of  marriage  and 
the  family.  And  in  the  second  place,  nothing  subverts  the  substance  of  a 
social  institution  so  much  as  a  blind  adherence  to  outworn  forms  and 
obsolete  habits  which  survive  by  mere  inertia. 

The  anthropologically  trained  sociologist  cannot  deal  in  rosy  ideals  or 
in  Utopian  millenniums.  There  was  never  a  perfect  child  nor  a  perfect 
parent  and  there  never  will  be.  A  complexity  of  motives  and  interests 
and  the  persistence  of  conflict  have  met  us  at  every  turn  of  our  investi- 

Functional  anthropology  is  thus  an  essentially  conservative  science. 
The  institutions  of  marriage  and  the  family  are  indispensable,  they  should 
be  saved  at  all  costs  in  the  present  wrecking  of  so  many  things  old  and 
valuable.  But,  like  all  really  conservative  tendencies,  the  functional  view 
advocates  intelligent  and  even  drastic  reform  wherever  this  is  necessary. 
If  marriage  and  the  family  are  in  need  of  a  much  greater  tolerance  in 
matters  of  sex  and  of  parental  authority,  these  reforms  ought  to  be 
formulated,  studied  and  tested  in  the  light  of  the  relevant  sociological 
laws  and  not  in  a  mere  haphazard,  piecemeal  fashion. 


APING  THE  APE;  otf  an  anthropologist  looks  at  the 
modern  world  from  his  primitive  cave-dwelling 

"You  have  killed  passion,'*  said  the  sad  Old  Man. 

"We  have  discovered  pleasure,"  retorted  the  Flapper.  "We  have  dis- 
covered pleasure  which  satisfies  and  does  not  destroy.  Passion  was  danger- 
ous, it  tore  you  to  pieces  and  cast  you  high  and  dry  on  the  rocks  of 
tragedy  or  the  sands  of  disillusionment.  We  do  not  want  to  relive  Tristan 
and  Isolde,  nor  yet  the  story  of  Anna  Karenina.  We  in  turn  have  torn 
passion  into  small  bits  and  scattered  them  over  the  gay  nights  of  our 

"Yes,  and  in  forgetting  how  to  suffer  you  have  forgotten  how  to  love." 

"What  yoii  call  love  is  just  a  romantic  and  sentimental  pose.  It  doesn't 
fit  into  modern  life;  it  doesn't  mean  anything  to  me  or  to  any  of  us — 
any  more  than  it  meant  anything  to  the  full-blooded  primeval  savage. 
We  are  tired  of  that  conspiracy  of  Continental  Romantics  and  mid- 
Victorian  prudes  and  its  sentimentalities.  We  have  no  sympathy  with  the 
lovesick  maiden  or  the  brokenhearted  hero.  To  us  they  are  pathological 
specimens — hormones  and  liver  and  a  couple  of  complexes.  Our  kind  of 
love  is  much  wider — more  comprehensive.  We  don't  pick  and  choose 
by  your  hazy  sentimental  ideals,  but  by  our  needs  of  the  moment.  We 
have  made  love  a  thing  of  give  and  take  all  round — nicely  pooled  and 

"In  my  gay  young  days,"  mused  the  sentimental  Old  Man,  "there  was 
a  song  in  Paris,  'J'aime  la  femme  et  la  folie.'  This  was  also  an  abstract 
love  for  an  impersonal  object,  syndicalised  and  communal.  It  was  loving 
woman  as  a  prostitute.  Now  [man]  love[s]  woman  as  the  Mother-Image 
or  as  the  Communal  Wife.  The  most  modern  among  you  have  made  man 
and  woman  into  interchangeable  parts  in  the  well-oiled  mechanism  of  the 
routine  of  organised  petting  parties." 

"Anyhow,"  said  the  Flapper,  "we  know  now  how  to  use  contraceptives 
— and  how  to  use  our  economic  independence  and  easy  divorce.  You'll  never 



drive  us  back  into  the  old  patriarchal  marriage — we  have  finished  with 
the  degradation  and  enslavement  of  women,  with  religious  taboos  and 
irrational  chastity.  J.  B.  Watson  says  that  in  fifty  years  there  will  be  no 
such  thing  as  marriage.  Love  is  an  entirely  private  and  personal  affair — as 
you  would  see  if  you  read  Havelock  Ellis.  Look  at  Bertrand  Russell,  too — 
he  shows  clearly  enough  that  jealousy,  which  you  probably  think  is  a 
rather  grand  emotion,  is  mostly  made  up  of  possessiveness  and  is  nothing 
but  a  burden  on  a  man  or  woman.  Everybody  has  a  right  to  be  happy — 
Dora  Russell  has  given  us  the  charter  for  that." 

The  wise  Old  Man  began  to  explain  that  Havelock  Ellis  and  Bertrand 
Russell  have  said  many  other  things  as  well,  many  wise  things,  showing 
that  marriage  and  family  life  are  after  all  not  to  be  jettisoned  lightly — 
but  the  Flapper  had  snapped  off  the  argument  and  was  already  beyond  the 
reach  of  wisdom  and  of  sentiment  or  of  Old  Age. 

This  is  a  paraphrase  of  a  conversation  which  I  heard  sometime,  some- 
where; was  it  in  Bloomsbury  or  in  Greenwich  Village,  or  in  Charlotten- 
burg  ...  I  cannot  remember;  or  was  it  only  in  a  bad  dream — one  of 
those  Freudian  dreams  which  are  not  altogether  wish-fulfilments? 

The  headlong  rush  into  .  .  .  ? 

Such  things  make  you  feel  old  and  sad  and  wise  if  you  belong  to  the 
pre-war  generation.  Things  have  hurried  past  us,  and  much  has  been 
destroyed  without  which  life  seems  very  empty  and  unsettled.  The  Great 
War  started  the  social  havoc,  then  came  Einstein  and  destroyed  the 
physical  world.  The  motor-car  and  now  the  aeroplane  are  destroying 
natural  beauty  and  defiling  nature — that  is,  to  us  old-fashioned  people. 
But  perhaps  the  most  unsettling  and  destructive  thing  is  this  uncertainty 
which  we  feel.  Is  contemporary  civihsation  going  through  a  crisis  of  un- 
precedented magnitude  or  is  it  comfortably  developing  on  progressive 
lines?  Are  we  being  driven  with  a  vertiginous  speed  somewhere,  somehow, 
to  an  unknown  goal,  unknown  but  essentially  destructive — or  are  we 
merely  rationalising  human  existence,  as  we  have  rationalised  our  theories, 
our  industries,  and  our  street  traffic? 

That  there  is  some  destruction  all  around  us,  there  is  no  doubt.  We  are 
tired,  we  are  even  frightened — so  tired  and  frightened  at  times  that 
repression  seems  the  only  comfortable  way  out.  We  don't  want  to  listen 
to  the  threats  of  the  decline  of  the  Western  World — that  everything  is 
going  to  the  dogs. 

But  let  us  sample  the  problem  and  concentrate  our  attention  on  the 
crisis  in  marriage  and  the  family,  as  well  as  in  love-making  suggested  in 
the  overheard  conversation.  Here  again  the  essence  of  what  is  happening 
is  difficult  to  assess.  Looked  at  from  one  angle,  civilisation's  time- 
honoured  arrangement  of  marriage  and  the  family  appears  as  the  only 



institution  really  safe,  founded  as  it  is  on  the  bed-rock  of  human  nature, 
defined  by  immemorial  tradition,  unassailable  by  most  of  the  forces  of 
modernism.  A  great  many  conservatives  (using  this  term  in  the  widest 
sense,  i.e.  those  attached  to  tradition  and  permanence),  looking  at  mar- 
riage from  this  angle,  would  simply  discourage  any  change  and  leave 
alone  this  sheet-anchor  of  social  stability.  "The  Englishman's  home  is 
his  castle" — the  proverb  in  its  sociological  symbolism  stands  for  the  belief 
that  the  domestic  institution  will  remain  the  stronghold  of  Anglo-Saxon 
culture  and  of  modern  culture  in  general. 

But  looking  at  it  from  this  angle  only  we  would  be  blinding  ourselves 
completely  to  realities.  Sex  and  the  freedom  of  sex  have  become  important 
subversive  forces.  They  have  been  adopted  almost  as  the  insignia  of  revo- 
lutionary attitudes  by  the  new  generation,  who  spiritualise  promiscuity 
and  regard  "old-fashioned"  morality  as  the  last  entrenchmenttof  repressive 
taboos  and  prejudices.  They  find  marriage  and  the  family  one  of  the 
main  obstacles  to  their  achievement  of  personal  happiness.  On  the  other 
hand,  those  who  believe  that  a  wholesale  reconstruction  and  reorganisation 
of  society  is  necessary,  whether  on  lines  of  Communism  or  Fascism  or  any 
other  social  creed,  naturally  and  reasonably  feel  that  as  long  as  the  State 
does  not  control  the  reproduction  as  well  as  the  education  of  the  young, 
the  domestic  circle  will  remain  the  stubborn  guardian  of  the  old  order. 

On  the  whole  neither  the  believers  in  automatic  stability  nor  those  who 
anticipate  the  complete  extermination  of  marriage  and  legitimate  parent- 
hood within  a  generation  or  two  are  very  helpful  to  us — they  are  not  true 
to  the  reality  of  fact.  Yet  the  whole  discussion  is  carried  on  from  these 
extreme  positions;  it  is  not  so  much  a  discussion  as  an  angry  shouting 
across  wide  spaces.  And  what  is  the  role  of  the  prophets  of  cold  reason, 
as  we  might  call  the  scientific  experts  in  whom  the  modern  man  places 
such  implicit  trust?  And  who  is  going  to  be  the  real  expert  on  marriage? 
As  an  anthropologist,  I  should  like  to  claim  for  my  science,  not  to  say 
for  myself,  the  privilege  of  being  able  to  speak  dispassionately  and  intel- 
ligently on  the  past,  present  and  future  of  marriage  and  family.  But 
anthropology,  especially  when  it  talks  about  marriage,  has  a  bad  name, 
and  it  deserves  it. 

For  the  last  three  quarters  of  a  century  or  so,  students  of  primitive 
cultures  have  quarrelled  about  the  "origins  of  marriage,"  about  the 
morality  of  primitive  man,  about  his  fidelity,  his  jealousy,  and  his  parent- 
hood. They  were  to  all  appearances  divided  into  two  irreconcilable  camps. 

"Up  till  relatively  recent  times,  about  the  middle  of  the  last  century, 
matters  appeared  to  the  students  of  the  subject  in  a  very  simple  fashion. 
The  two  great  authorities  of  our  Christian  civilisation,  the  Bible  and 
Aristotle,  contain  positive  statements  about  the  origins  of  marriage  and 
the  importance  of  the  family.  To  the  mediaeval  theologian  and  to  the 
nineteenth  century  sociologist,  marriage  appeared  respectively  as  a  divine, 



and  as  a  natural  institution,  and  the  patriarchal  family  as  the  cell  of 
society,  while  any  deviations  from  monogamy  were  regarded  as  exceptions, 
lapses  or  irrelevancies.  Even  as  late  as  1861  Sir  Henry  Maine  could  affirm 
that  it  was  difficult  to  see  'what  society  of  men  had  not  been  originally 
based  on  the  patriarchal  family.'  This  simple  doctrine,  the  Adam  and  Eve 
theory  of  primitive  marriage,  as  we  might  call  it,  was  based  on  authority 
rather  than  on  observation,  on  reticences  rather  than  on  the  frank  discus- 
sion of  facts,  on  belief  and  moral  prejudice  rather  than  on  a  dispassionate 
desire  for  truth.  Anthropology,  therefore,  was  doomed  to  modify  if  not  to 
explode  this  theory,  and  it  did  so  with  a  vengeance.'* 

I  have  quoted  this  passage  verbatim  from  a  previous  article  of  mine 
written  about  ten  years  ago,  because  I  have  recently  been  classed  by  a 
group  of  militant  Misbehaviourists  and  pseudo-anthropologists  as  a  sup- 
porter of  Sir  Henry  Maine's  views,  and  the  nickname  "Adam-and-Eve 
theories  of  marriage  origins,"  which  I  coined  myself,  has  been  affixed  to 
me  (sic!)  without  any  acknowledgment  of  course! 

Let  me  return  however  to  the  history  of  the  problem.  As  I  said,  the 
explosion  of  the  naive  Adam-and-Eve  views  was  so  destructive  that  it 
blew  everything  to  pieces.  Towards  the  middle  of  the  last  century  a 
number  of  scholars  hit  upon  what  appeared  to  be  an  illuminating  as  well 
as  a  sound  and  genuine  scientific  discovery.  They  suddenly  received  a 
revelation,  partly  from  facts,  partly  from  that  "inner  consciousness" 
which  revealed  to  the  German  philosopher  the  nature  of  the  camel  (or 
was  it  an  elephant?).  The  revelation  told  them  that  it  was  not  a  para- 
disiacal monogamy  but  licentious,  horrid  promiscuity  in  which  primitive 
man  lived;  that  far  from  having  a  well-regulated  family  he  lived  in  a 
horde  where  everyone  mated  with  everyone  else,  where  the  children  were 
communally  held  by  group  mothers  and  group  fathers,  where  there  was 
no  order,  no  morality,  no  anything. 

The  first  perhaps  to  hit  upon  the  new  ideas  was  Bachofen,  a  stodgy  and 
learned  Swiss  lawyer.  Pondering  over  old  texts,  Greek  and  Latin  mytholo- 
gies, and  legal  documents,  he  found  that  in  olden  days  most  human 
societies  lived  under  mother-right,  that  is,  women  were  the  stronger  sex, 
descent  was  counted  from  the  mother,  and  the  father  was  an  irrelevant 
item  in  the  household.  This  was  well  in  accordance  with  the  fact  that  in 
many  primitive  communities  motherhood  is  of  greater  importance  than 

The  solution  of  this  state  of  affairs  which  came  to  Bachofen  as  one  of 
those  scientific  illuminations  which  create  an  epoch — though  often  an 
epoch  of  muddle  and  side-tracking — is  well  known.  His  inner  vision 
showed  him  original  mankind  living  in  sexual  promiscuity,  with  neither 
marriage  nor  fatherhood  nor  morality.  Woman  was  desecrated  by  male 
concupiscence,  she  was  enslaved,  she  was  nothing  more  than  a  prostitute. 
But  women,  by  nature  morally  stronger  than  the  male  sex,  revolted 



against  this  desecration.  They  established  individual  marriage,  discrimina- 
tive maternity,  and  in  doing  so  they  introduced  law,  order  and  morality. 

A  great  American  ethnologist,  Lewis  H.  Morgan,  was  led  by  the  study 
of  the  so-called  classificatory  terminology  of  kinship  to  frame  similar 
hypotheses.  According  to  him,  human  society  originated  in  complete 
sexual  promiscuity,  passed  then  through  the  consanguine  family,  the 
punaluan  household,  group  marriage,  polyandry,  polygyny,  and  what-not, 
arriving  only  after  a  laborious  process  of  fifteen  transformations  in  the 
happy  haven  of  monogamous  marriage.  About  the  same  time,  McLennan 
and  Lord  Avebury  in  Great  Britain,  [Felix]  Giraud-Teulon  in  France, 
Post  in  Germany  were  coming  to  similar  conclusions  and  substantiating 
them  with  elaborate  arguments.  From  savage  countries  came  corroborating 
evidence  furnished  by  an  army  of  observers:  Howitt  from  Australia, 
[Robert  Henry]  Codrington  and  Fison  from  Melanesia,  [Jan  Stanislaw] 
Kubary  from  the  Micronesian  Islands,  [George  A.]  Wilken  from  the 
Malay  Archipelago,  [Alfred]  Grandidier  from  Madagascar,  Kovalevsky 
from  the  Caucasus. 

This  revolution  in  scientific  views  about  the  origins  of  marriage  for  a 
time  completely  held  ground,  but  the  sudden  and  dramatic  way  in  which 
opinions  on  the  family  and  marriage  had  veered  round  naturally  produced 
fatal  consequences.  No  revolution  has  ever  borne  unadulterated  fruits. 
And  here  also,  after  a  time,  there  came  a  reaction,  extreme,  destructive, 
and  as  reactions  often  are,  one-sided  and  far  too  sweeping.  Darwin, 
Andrew  Lang,  Crawley,  and  last  not  least,  Westermarck,  put  the  assump- 
tion of  primitive  promiscuity  and  group  marriage  to  a  searching  criticism 
and  it  was  found  that  these  new  theories  of  the  complete  absence  of 
marriage  from  primitive  cultures,  of  the  communal  character  of  early 
mating  and  family — that  these  hypotheses  can  be  no  more  accepted  than 
the  old  Adam-and-Eve  theory  of  marriage,  at  least  they  cannot  be  accepted 

For  almost  half  a  century  the  deadlock  between  the  two  rival  schools 
lasted.  Even  a  few  years  ago  I  was  able  to  write  that  ''Anthropology  is 
divided  into  two  camps  upon  almost  every  question  connected  with  primi- 
tive marriage,  sexuality  and  family  life.  Like  many  a  savage  tribe,  anthro- 
jpologists  are  in  this  matter  organised  according  to  the  dual  principle, 
||  divided  into  two  moieties  or  phratries,  one  claiming  descent  from  a 
I  patriarchal  pair,  the  other  from  the  communistic  horde,  the  one  having 
as  its  totemic  ancestor  the  monogamous  ape,  the  other  the  promiscuous 
Ibaboon,  the  one  having  Morgan  for  its  patron  saint,  the  other  Wester- 
jmarck."  But  since  then  matters  have  considerably  improved,  and  I  cer- 
tainly would  not  endorse  my  by  now  antiquated  statement.  At  present  we 
jare  steering  through  many  difficulties  towards  a  synthesis  which  embraces 
the  schools  of  Morgan  and  of  Westermarck.  Adam-and-Eve  anthropology 
had  to  be  exploded.  The  naive  and  simple  solution  explaining  everything 




by  promiscuity  or  mother-right  had  also  to  be  critically  rejected.  And  now 
we  are  moving  towards  a  position  which  has  to  recognise  the  reahty  of 
many  of  the  facts  which  one  or  other  of  the  schools  tried  to  ignore — the 
co-existence  of  family  and  clan,  of  sexual  license  and  of  strict  morality — 
and  we  have  to  evolve  a  theoretical  treatment  which  is  much  more 
complex  but  also  much  more  instructive. 

The  play  of  myth  and  precedent  in  anthropology 

Why  has  our  science  been  for  such  a  long  time  a  source  of  great  entertain- 
ment to  the  pubhc,  who  are  amused  by  it  and  at  times  at  it?  Because 
though  it  could  have  been  a  real  force  in  modern  life,  a  great  practical 
moral  influence,  it  has  so  far  been  mainly  playing  at  problems,  construct- 
ing fairy  tales  about  primitive  man,  while  its  only  moral  trend  has  been 
an  invitation  to  modern  man  to  imitate  his  primeval  ancestor.  Incredible 
as  it  sounds,  aping  the  ape  was  to  a  large  extent  the  motto,  the  watchword, 
of  research  into  pre-history  and  the  study  of  savage  cultures. 

Let  me  demonstrate  this  briefly.  For  a  long  time  the  main  anthropologi- 
cal game  was  the  search  for  origins.  "Primitive  man,"  that  is,  primeval 
man,  the  missing  link,  had  to  be  reconstructed.  Modern  savages  provided 
us  with  the  stage  properties  by  which  this  reconstruction  was  carried  out. 
Primitive  man  had  to  be  very  savage,  he  had  to  be  amusing,  but  above 
all,  he  had  to  be  painted  very  much  in  black  and  white,  he  had  to  present 
the  clearcut  character  of  "unspoilt  human  nature." 

But  here  came  the  snag.  Once  you  put  the  essentially  wrong  problem: 
"What  is  primitive  man  in  his  really  original  nature?"  and  once  you 
assume  that  this  nature  must  be  very  outspoken,  you  are  likely  to  exag- 
gerate any  marked  or  striking  feature  into  the  dominant  characteristic. 
Thus  if  we  look  through  the  theories  of  "original  man"  we  can  collect  an 
amusing  and  kaleidoscopic  variety  of  primitive  silhouettes.  We  have  the 
bloodthirsty  savage  who  haunted  many  of  the  older  accounts  of  primitive 
Kfe,  the  missionaries'  tales  and  the  Red  Indian  stories.  By  contrast,  such 
contemporary  writers  as  Father  W.  Schmidt,  Professor  Elliot  Smith  and 
Dr.  [William  James]  Perry  have  discovered  the  paradisiacal  primitive  man, 
puritanically  chaste,  kindhearted,  and  essentially  peace-loving,  a  sort  of 
pacifist  who  would  walk  straight  up  to  Geneva  and  vote  for  universal 
disarmament.  For  a  long  time  primeval  man  was  denied  all  reKgion,  he 
was  a  benighted  heathen,  the  savage  full  of  superstitions,  and  then  we 
had  a  complete  reversal;  Andrew  Lang  discovered  primitive  monotheism, 
the  good  paters,  Schmidt  and  Koppers,  endowed  him  with  high  moraUty, 
strictly  monogamous  tendencies,  and  a  completely  Roman  Cathohc  nature. 
At  times,  he  was  the  cunning  child  of  nature,  and  then  again  for  variety's 
sake,  M.  [Lucien]  Levy-Bruhl  made  him  into  the  prelogical  mystic. 

Thus  we  have  a  myth-making  tendency  which  depicts  to  us  the  Golden 
Age  or  the  natural  state  or  the  original  nature  of  man  in  very  firm  outline. 



Most  incredible  of  all,  then  comes  the  cry  of  return  to  nature  and  of 
following  the  good  example  of  unspoilt  primitive  character.  No  sooner 
does  Dr.  Perry  tell  us  that  primitive  man  is  a  pacifist  than  one  of  the 
leading  minds  of  our  age,  Mr.  G.  Lowes  Dickinson  of  Cambridge,  whose 
work  on  pacifism  is  really  constructive  and  respectworthy,  cannot  refrain 
from  adding  the  nai've  argument  of  "imitating  the  primitive  pacifist"  to 
his  relevant  cogent  plea  for  disarmament.  The  late  Dr.  Rivers,  a  foremost 
anthropologist  of  the  past  generation  and  a  truly  brilHant  thinker,  ad- 
vanced Socialism  in  England  because  he  imagined  that  Melanesian  savages 
were  communists.  One  or  two  quite  intelligent  writers  on  Feminism  have 
based  their  reformatory  conclusions  on  the  fact  of  primitive  mother-right. 
Free  love  has  been  advocated  for  the  last  fifty  years  all  over  the  world  by 
pious  references  to  primitive  promiscuity. 

All  this  is,  to  use  an  apt  American  expression,  junk.  The  myth  of  a 
luminous  past,  however  inspiring  that  may  be,  cannot  be  made  to  lighten 
our  future,  to  serve  as  a  beacon  towards  which  humanity  has  to  progress. 
It  cannot  be  said  too  emphatically:  First  of  all,  we  shall  never  be  able  to 
reconstruct  man's  original  nature  in  one  single  term,  or  even  in  two  or 
three  terms;  man  has  always  been  more  or  less  what  he  is:  a  very  complex 
creature,  mixed  of  mind  and  spirit,  of  good  and  bad,  of  earthly  lust  and 
divine  love,  of  destructive  impulses  and  desires  to  build  up — in  short,  the 
savage,  the  primitive,  the  man-ape,  was  probably  very  much  as  you  and 
I  are.  In  the  second  place,  whatever  primitive  man  might  have  been  means 
nothing,  absolutely  nothing,  to  what  he  is  going  to  become.  We  might 
quite  as  well  preach  cannibalism  or  the  killing  of  aged  parents,  or  the 
burning  of  widows  or  the  carrying  of  skulls  round  the  neck,  because  these 
customs  are  very  likely  to  have  been  practised  by  the  primitive  man-ape. 

There  is  now  in  progress  a  very  decided  revulsion  among  at  least  one 
school  of  anthropology — the  Functional — against  this  retrospective  prec- 
edent-making. The  Functional  school  wants  to  place  the  science  of  man 
on  a  really  scientific  basis.  Exactly  as  the  chemist  or  physicist  by  ex- 
periment and  comparative  method  constructs  the  laws  of  inanimate 
nature,  as  the  biologist  discovers  the  principles  of  the  process  in  live 
matter,  so  the  anthropologist  should  establish  the  laws  of  sociological  and 
cultural  process.  This  of  course  does  not  mean  that  the  only  task  of 
anthropology  is  to  establish  the  laws  of  development  on  a  large  scale,  that 
is,  either  tracing  it  back  to  its  origins,  or  else  forecasting  what  may  happen 
two  thousand  years  hence.  This  ambitious  task  anthropology  has  under- 
taken and  it  has  failed  to  carry  out  its  undertaking.  But  even  if  it  con- 
fines itself  to  a  much  less  ambitious  task,  that  of  establishing  the  necessary 
relations  between  the  various  aspects  of  culture,  religion,  law,  morality, 
social  organisation,  economics  and  so  on;  even  if  it  is  limited  to  showing 
the  real  nature  of  such  institutions  as  marriage,  the  family,  the  state,  the 
religious  association,  even  then  anthropology  can  supply  us  with  the  basis 



for  most  sociological  and  cultural  problems  of  today,  yesterday  and 

Functional  Anthropology  is,  then,  a  determined  effort  to  make  the 
study  of  man  into  a  science,  and  this  can  only  be  done  by  establishing  the 
necessary  concatenation  between  cultural  facts  and  by  establishing  a  law 
of  culture.  And  here  the  anthropologist,  and  side  by  side  with  him  the 
sociologist  and  historian,  is  seriously  handicapped.  The  student  of  inani- 
mate nature,  as  well  as  the  man  who  experiments  on  guinea  pigs,  amoebas 
or  plants,  has  his  laboratory,  but  it  is  not  possible  to  experiment  on  human 
beings — still  less  on  human  societies.  We  cannot  stage  mother-right  in 
Bulgaria  and  strict  patriarchal  institutions  in  Iowa.  We  cannot  have  license 
and  promiscuity  in  Spain  and  enforce  strict  chastity  in  Portugal:  Portugal 
would  rebel.  Papal  theocracy,  lock,  stock  and  Pius  XI,  cannot  be  trans- 
planted to  New  Hampshire  and  a  Soviet  regime  as  a  control  established  in 
Massachusetts.  The  only  thing  which  remains  for  the  social  student  is  the 
comparative  method.  And  here  anthropology,  the  comparative  study  of 
cultures  over  the  widest  range  possible,  is  a  really  scientific  handmaid  of 
social  science.  Are  you  interested  in  Communism?  You  want  to  know 
really  whether  this  is  a  horrid  invention  of  those  devilish  Bolsheviks; 
whether  it  originated  in  the  fantasies  of  Marx,  of  Engels,  or  of  St.  Augus- 
tine— or  perhaps  whether  it  was  invented  by  Plato.  Well,  cast  a  sweeping 
glance  over  Stone  Age  societies,  over  the  kingdoms  of  Africa,  the  Pigmies, 
the  Middle  Cultures — and  what  will  you  find?  In  every  human  society 
there  is  a  fair  balance  between  individual  property  and  the  partial  sur- 
render for  the  common  treasury,  in  co-operative  work,  in  contributions, 
in  taxation.  "Communism"  and  "Individualism"  are  not  inventions  of 
philosophers;  they  are  not  black  and  white  antitheses — though  in  this  form 
they  lend  themselves  to  political  vituperation.  They  are  really  correlated 
economic  forces  which  have  always  to  work  conjointly.  Functional  An- 
thropology reveals  to  us  that  most  of  the  social  tendencies,  of  the  political 
issues,  of  the  economic  forces,  have  been  at  work  from  the  beginning. 
They  certainly  are  to  be  found  even  in  the  lowest  cultures.  They  assume 
different  forms,  they  work  through  different  mechanisms,  but  they  are 
there.  And  from  the  way  in  which  they  have  been  working  in  the  past  we 
may  learn  something  about  the  way  in  which  they  are  likely  to  work 
in  the  future. 

Instead,  therefore,  of  preaching  a  return  to  precedent.  Functional  An- 
thropology teaches  us  by  the  experience  of  the  past  all  about  the  working 
of  human  institutions,  such  as  marriage,  the  family,  the  state,  the  co- 
operative group,  the  rehgious  community.  Functional  Anthropology  re- 
veals to  us  the  universal  features  of  human  society.  It  shows  us  what  the 
main  business  of  cultures  has  been  throughout  humanity;  how  this  busi- 
ness has  been  carried  on;  what  mechanisms  have  been  at  work.  Instead  of 
telling  us  fairy  tales  about  what  had  been  once  upon  a  time,  it  simply 


gives  us  an  insight  into  the  working  of  human  society,  of  human  culture, 
of  the  human  mind.  It  is  far  less  amusing — this  has  to  be  confessed  at 
once — than  the  old  fairy-tale  anthropology.  But  science  is  not  one  of  those 
things  which  makes  life  exciting.  Science,  with  its  sober  determinism,  with 
its  less  and  less  pretentious  range  of  questions,  with  its  reduction  of  every- 
thing to  a  diagrammatic  treatment — science  has  been  weeding  the  ad- 
venturous, the  romantic,  the  unexpected,  out  of  life.  I  shrink  and  shudder 
at  the  idea  of  what  science  will  make  out  of  life  if  it  ever  becomes  applied 
to  life.  Anthropology  has  been  for  a  long  time  the  stronghold  of  the 
romantic,  anti-scientific  spirit  and  that  wonderful  antiquarianism  which 
gave  us  beautiful  day-dreams  about  primitive  man.  I  love  the  old  anthro- 
pology, and,  alas,  have  to  be  one  of  its  destroyers. 

Let  us  return  to  marriage.  Functional  Anthropology  teaches  us  that 
marriage  is  as  marriage  does.  It  does  not,  of  course,  maintain  that  marriage 
has  always  been  exactly  as  it  is  now  and  with  us.  Marriage  has  changed 
widely.  But  through  all  the  changes  and  vicissitudes,  all  history,  all  de- 
velopment, all  geographical  setting,  the  family  and  marriage  still  remain 
the  same  twin  institutions;  they  still  emerge  as  a  stable  group  showing 
throughout  the  same  fundamental  features — a  group  consisting  of  father, 
of  mother  and  of  children,  forming  a  joint  household,  co-operating 
economically,  united  by  a  contract  and  surrounded  by  religious  sanctions 
which  make  the  family  into  a  moral  unit. 

The  position  which  I  and  other  anthropologists  working  in  the  Func- 
tional spirit  and  by  the  Functional  method  have  arrived  at  is  one  of 
synthesis,  though  not  of  compromise.  It  is  so  much  so  that  we  have  all 
been  misunderstood  by  either  side  and  accused  either  as  reactionary  ob- 
scurantists or  else  as  aggressive  demoralisers.  One  or  two  documents  might 
be  of  interest. 

Says  Professor  Edward  Sapir,  one  of  America's  foremost  anthropologists: 
"The  present  sex  unrest  has  been  nibbling  at  more  or  less  reliable  informa- 
tion reported  by  anthropologists  from  primitive  communities.  Any  primi- 
tive community  that  indulges  or  is  said  to  indulge  in  unrestricted  sex 
behaviour  is  considered  an  interesting  community  to  hear  from."  Since 
I  am  one  of  those  who  collected  this  "more  or  less  reliable  information" 
and  have  written  the  "excited  books  about  pleasure-loving  .  .  .  Trobriand 
Islanders" — to  quote  the  stigmatising  expressions  of  Professor  Sapir — I 
have  to  bear  part  at  least  of  the  censure  which  my  learned  colleague 
metes  out  to  those  who  use  anthropology  as  a  means  of  perverting  the 
young.  My  critic  seems  to  forget  that  in  my  "excited  books"  I  have 
insisted  on  the  fact  that  "Trobrianders  have  as  many  rules  of  decency  and 
decorum  as  they  have  liberties  and  indulgences,"  and  that  far  from  trying 
to  be  "exciting"  or  unsettling,  I  have  made  it  clear  that  the  "best  way  to 
approach  sexual  morality  in  an  entirely  different  culture  is  to  remember 
that  the  sexual  impulse  is  never  entirely  free,  neither  can  it  ever  be  com- 



pletely  enslaved  by  social  imperatives."  I  have  certainly  not  described  my 
"primitive  community"  as  "indulging  in  unrestricted  sex  behaviour," 
but  Professor  Sapir  would  appear  to  class  me  with  the  Impuritans  and 
Anthropological  Perverters. 

On  the  other  hand,  only  a  few  weeks  ago  a  distinguished  publicist, 
speaking  about  my  opinions  on  marriage  past  and  present,  wrote:  "If,  as 
Professor  Malinowski  seems  to  argue,  our  modern  system  is  so  rooted  in 
the  immemorial  tradition  as  to  be  part  of  human  nature  itself — and  even 
of  animal  nature,  too — then  it  would  be  rash  to  tamper  with  it  lightly, 
lest  we  undermine  the  whole  foundations  of  society."  And  the  same 
publicist  labels  me  as  representing  the  "Fundamentalist  attitude"  in  that 
I  maintain  "that  marriage  always  has  been  and  should  be  as  it  is."  And  yet 
another  publicist,  this  time  an  extreme  prophet  of  Misbehaviourism, 
describes  the  plight  of  the  modern  emancipated  woman,  "who  is  told  by 
Professor  Malinowski,  or  some  other  Adam-and-Eve  anthropologist,  that 
the  family  is  the  foundation  of  human  society."  Classing  me  with  Dean 
Inge,  Professor  Westermarck  and  Jix  (Mr.  Joynson-Hicks,  now  Lord 
Brentford,  sometime  Home  Secretary  of  Great  Britain),  he  laments  that 
"the  appalling  wreckage  of  human  lives  which  is  the  outcome  of  those 
fantastic  views  is  beyond  computation."  And  he  indicts  me  among  others 
in  the  final  anathema:  "Classic  authorities  on  the  history  of  human  mar- 
riage have  more  to  answer  for  than  Spanish  Grand  Inquisitors.  Their 
hands  are  imbrued  with  blood  and  tears."  Now  there  may  be  some  comfort 
to  be  had  from  being  hit  by  both  sides,  from  being  alternately  labelled  as 
Arch-Immoralist  and  Grand  Inquisitor  of  Puritanism:  truth  is  unpleasant 
to  all  who  think  in  extremes,  and  he  who  speaks  the  truth  will  not  be 
popular  with  either  side,  who  believe  in  having  the  monopoly.  Now  it 
may  be  amusing  to  be  misinterpreted,  misquoted  and  cudgelled  by  any 
extremist  (though  as  a  matter  of  fact  I  should  like  to  add  that  Professor 
Edward  Sapir  is  not  an  extremist  and  that  his  views  on  marriage,  family, 
and  sex  are  entirely  in  agreement  with  mine,  and  his  slight  slap  at  me  I 
regard  as  uncalled  for) .  But,  after  all,  when  you  write  books  you  want 
them  to  be  not  only  read  and  misquoted,  but  understood.  Besides  the 
flattery  of  invective  I  sometimes  wish  also  for  the  prosaic  but  satisfying 
compliment  of  sympathetic  understanding  and  assent.  So  let  me  indulge 
in  another  day-dream:  I  shall  imagine  the  Functional  Anthropologist  sur- 
rounded by  a  misguided  but  intelligent  crowd  of  modern  flappers  and 
pseudo-Bolshevists,  Impuritans  and  Feminists,  Introverts  and  Misbehav- 
iourists.  They  all  listen  to  the  Functional  Anthropologist,  lap  up  his  words, 
take  them  to  heart,  and  come  out  wiser  and  better  people.  The  Modern 
Man  starts  on  marriage:  "The  whole  thing  hardly  seems  worth  wasting 
one's  breath  over.  Your  orthodox  Christian  marriage  with  its  claptrap  of 
religious  junk,  vindictive  legal  interference  and  coercion  is  an  intolerable 



burden.  .  .  .  Are  we  going  to  allow  this  ramshackle  affair  to  strangle 
personal  happiness,  to  interfere  with  social  advances?  Or  shall  we  finally 
put  it  on  a  rational  basis?  There  would  seem  good  and  fine  things  to  be 
jettisoned  with  it,  no  doubt.  Some  of  them  are  probably  due  to  mere 
sentimentalising  from  which  it  is  difficult  for  us  to  rid  ourselves.  Some 
are  mere  Pauline  perversions,  or  survivals  from  that  horrid  destructive 
Puritanism  which  had  its  virtues,  but  which  now  has  become  sheer  vice. 
Can  you  give  me  a  single  intelligent  reason  why  human  affection  should 
be  submitted  to  law  or  personal  choice  to  the  ceremonial  approval  of  a 
bevy  of  clergymen;  or  the  uniting  of  personalities  be  made  the  object  of 
an  economic  bargain?" 

"Your  arguments,"  replied  the  Functional  Anthropologist,  "have,  in 
spite  of  their  rhetorical  setting,  a  great  deal  of  truth  in  them.  It  is  quite 
true  that  the  modern  law  of  divorce,  let  us  say,  is  both  immoral  and 
vindictive.  In  the  majority  of  cases  obviously  false  evidence  has  to  be 
staged  in  order  to  dissolve  marriages  which  should  be  dissolved  because 
they  do  not  work  and  cannot  work.  But  the  real  question  is  whether  we 
shall  spill  the  child  with  the  bath,  and,  because  legislation  in  certain 
states  of  the  Union  and  in  certain  European  countries  is  silly  on  one  point 
or  another,  whether  in  order  to  improve  it  we  shall  destroy  the  family  and 

Absolute  monogamy — away  with  it  I 

"There  is  no  need  to  destroy  marriage!"  the  Modern  Man  replied.  "It  has 
destroyed  itself.  It  is  a  compound  of  anachronisms,  of  survivals.  As  an 
anthropologist,  you  ought  to  know  it  best.  Take  love  and  the  law.  At  the 
beginning  of  things  love  was  satisfied  to  the  full  measure  in  primeval 
promiscuity,  and  law  did  not  interfere,  since  there  was  no  institution  of 
marriage  at  all.  Under  matriarchal  conditions,  women  chose  their  lovers 
but  were  not  submitted  to  their  husbands.  This  we  can  and  should  imitate. 
Law  became  only  necessary  when  under  patriarchal  tyranny  women  were 
made  into  chattels  and  were  traded  into  the  possession  of  the  male.  What 
made  everything  wrong  was  the  influence  of  religion — above  all,  of  Chris- 
tianity. Primitive  marriage  is  never  religious,  as  Franz  Boas  has  told  us: 
*The  religious  sanction  of  marriage  exists  in  hardly  any  primitive  tribe.'  " 
"On  this  point  I  am  forced  to  dissent  from  the  opinion,  even  though  it 
has  been  given  by  a  real  and  a  great  anthropologist  like  Franz  Boas.  I 
have  also  emphatically  to  disagree  with  him  when  he  tells  us  that  'the 
customs  of  mankind  show  that  permanent  marriage  is  not  based  primarily 
on  the  permanence  of  sexual  love  between  two  individuals,  but  that  it  is 
essentially  regulated  by  economic  considerations.  Formal  marriage  is  con- 
nected with  transfer  of  property,  for  it  is  obvious  that  you  would  at  once 
make  an  attempt  to  apply  it  to  modern  conditions.'  " 


"Certainly,"  said  the  Modern  Man.  "If  we  want  to  base  modern  mar- 
riage on  love,  on  which  it  never  has  been  based  before — if  we  want  to 
make  it  into  something  better  than  a  bargain — we  have  to  destroy  the 
whole  patriarchal  tissue  of  lies  and  laws,  whether  bolstered  up  by  St.  Paul's 
Epistles  or  the  Old  Testament,  or  the  writings  of  Professor  Westermarck. 
May  I  quote  once  more  the  conclusion  of  our  greatest  American  anthro- 
pologist, whose  learning,  competence  and  value  you  yourself  recognise 
fully?  'Instability  is  found  as  much  in  modern  civilization  as  in  simpler 
societies.  Man  is  evidently  not  an  absolutely  monogamous  being.  The 
efiforts  to  force  man  into  absolute  monogamy  have  never  been  success- 
ful. .  .  .'  " 

"This  is  a  most  unfortunately  worded  generalization — especially  un- 
fortunate since  it  comes  from  Franz  Boas.  It  is  based  on  the  usual  dialectic 
trick:  you  erect  a  straw  enemy  and  destroy  him  after  a  short  but  some- 
what inglorious  fight.  'Absolute  monogamy'  is  an  ideal,  and  a  good  ideal  at 
that,  but  in  my  opinion  the  history  of  human  marriage  is  not  a  series  of 
erroneous  and  futile  efforts  at  'forcing  man  into  absolute  monogamy.'  We 
have  rather  before  us  a  variety  of  forms,  and  the  study  of  these  tells  us 
that  the  fundamental,  ever-recurring  form  of  marriage  is  monogamy  in 
the  sense  of  an  individual  legal  contract  between  one  man  and  one  woman; 
that  this  fundamental  form  is  the  only  one  which  works  satisfactorily; 
that  it  is  at  the  base  of  all  the  combined  forms,  including  polygyny  and 
polyandry;  and  that  all  evolution  tends  more  and  more  towards  the  mo- 
nogamous form  of  marriage. 

The  five  matrimonial  errors  of  anthropology 

"Small  wonder  that  anthropology  has  become  discredited  in  its  application 
to  modern  life.  The  arguments  which  you  have  given  me,  and  which  are 
constantly  being  used,  are  one  and  all  based  on  anthropological  fallacies. 
It  is  untrue  that  marriage  ever  has  been  or  could  have  been  an  exclusively 
economic  bargain.  It  is  untrue  that  there  are  any  indications  of  a  primitive 
state  of  wholesale  promiscuity.  It  is  untrue  that  marriage  in  the  past  has 
ever  been  in  any  community  a  loveless,  cold-blooded  contract.  It  is  untrue 
that  there  has  ever  been  a  pure  matriarchal  stage.  Finally,  it  is  blatantly 
false  that  marriage  in  any  community  has  lacked  reHgious  sanctions.  I 
cannot  understand  how  an  anthropologist  of  the  measure  of  Franz  Boas 
could  have  committed  himself  to  such  a  statement. 

"And  not  only  that,"  continued  the  Functional  Anthropologist.  "Hold- 
ing this  bag  of  anthropological  tricks  in  one  hand,  you  are  not  satisfied 
with  using  them  consistently,  but  even  as  you  produce  them  you  juggle 
them  and  turn  them  either  way  to  suit  your  argument.  At  times  you 
dangle  the  'primeval  custom'  before  our  eyes  as  a  valuable  precedent: 
let  us  have  promiscuity,  because  the  man-ape  was  promiscuous;  let  us 



desentimentalize  marriage,  because  it  was  not  originally  a  sentimental  ar- 
rangement; let  us  abolish  coercion  because  primitive  man  was  free  to  mate 
as  he  liked.  As  soon,  however,  as  you  take  an  objection  to  some  institution 
or  other,  you  brandish  it  before  us  as  a  repellent  relic  of  savage  barbarism. 
The  economic  side  of  marriage,  the  coercion  of  the  woman,  does  not  please 
you.  It  is  a  survival  from  horrid  patriarchal  marriage  and  ought  to  be 
abolished.  We  must  get  rid  of  the  superstitions  of  the  Australian  aborigines 
and  the  mid-Victorian  gentleman,  you  argue  at  once.  You  don't  like  the 
religious  side  of  marriage.  It  would  probably  simply  be  wasting  my  breath 
on  you  if  I  wanted  to  prove  that  Boas  is  wrong  and  that  in  fact  marriage 
throughout  humanity  is  essentially  a  religious  sacrament,  because  you 
would  simply  tell  me:  *That  is  another  reason  for  doing  away  with  re- 
ligious sanctions.  It  was  good  for  the  superstitious  savage,  but  not  for 
us  enlightened  people.*  " 

Marriage — a  cocktail  or  a  symphony? 

Somewhat  cornered,  the  Modern  Man  repUed:  "Your  argument  so  far  is 
mainly  negative.  But  supposing  even  that  you  know  better  than  any  one 
of  your  predecessors  and  colleagues,  what  is  your  view  of  marriage?  What 
morals  can  you  draw  from  the  past  for  the  present  and  the  future?" 

"Well,  the  most  important  truth  is  that  marriage  has  always  been  a 
combination,  a  synthesis  of  elements.  In  every  form  of  primitive  marriage 
there  are  the  elements  of  love  and  of  free  choice,  but  also  economic  con- 
siderations, usually  accompanied  by  elaborate  legal  contracts  and  as- 
sociated with  religious  sanctions.  Marriage  was  always  of  necessity  a 
compromise — and  a  compromise  does  not  give  you  the  full  measure  of  a 
snake-proof  Garden-of-Eden  happiness." 

"In  other  words,  your  whole  philosophy  boils  down  to  saying  that 
marriage  is  a  cocktail  of  all  things,  good  and  bad,  pleasant  and  otherwise, 
sweet  and  bitter.  We  have  to  gulp  it  down — is  it  as  a  tonic,  or  for  mixed 
pleasure,  or  perhaps  as  an  appetiser?"  asked  the  Ironical  Young  Lady. 

"A  harmony  or  a  symphony  or  even  a  cocktail  if  you  like — even  a  cock- 
tail can  be  good,  though  I  as  a  good  European  have  never  yet  condescended 
to  like  any  one.  But  it  is  not  the  mixed  or  compound  character  of  mar- 
riage that  I  stress — it  is  the  permanent  constitution  of  the  compound.  If 
marriage  under  a  variety  of  conditions  has  always  had  this  strange  combi- 
nation of  legal  coercion  as  well  as  of  personal  choice,  there  is  obviously 
something  inherently  necessary  in  this  combination.  It  cannot  be  an 
anomaly  of  Elizabethan  Puritanism  or  the  ruHngs  of  the  Council  of  Trent, 
or  of  mid- Victorian  prudery.  We  are  led  to  enquire  into  why  marriage 
should  be  at  the  same  time  a  mystic  bond  of  personal  aflfection  and  a 
coercive  chain  of  legal  ruling.  And  again,  if  we  find  that  the  biological 
urge  to  mate,  which  is  so  often  given  an  extremely  wide  range  of  satis- 



faction,  still  leads  people  to  surrender  their  personal  liberty  to  the  bond  of 
marriage,  surely  we  must  conclude  once  more  that  marriage  satisfies  some 
other  needs  besides  that  of  sexual  union. 

The  return  to  suttee 

"And  then,"  continued  the  Functional  Anthropologist,  "this  question  of  a 
religious  intervention.  The  anthropologist,  however  learned,  may  have  his 
moments  of  oblivion.  To  say  that  marriage  has  no  religious  sanctions  in 
any  primitive  community  is  probably  based  on  the  fallacy  of  identifying 
the  religious  character  of  marriage  with  the  wedding  ceremony.  The 
wedding  act  itself  is  very  often  disconcertingly  simple  and  'secular.'  I 
have  myself  seen  natives  of  Melanesia  taking  what  is  to  them  a  most 
momentous  step  in  life  by  the  simple  act  of  sitting  together  on  either 
side  of  a  large  wooden  platter  and  eating  a  few  baked  yams  with  one 
another.  But  the  same  people,  as  soon  as  the  wife  became  pregnant,  went 
through  a  strict  discipline  of  ethical  taboos,  kept  under  a  religious  sanc- 
tion. They  both  became  enmeshed  in  a  series  of  magical  performances; 
they  entered  en  rapport  with  the  spiritual  world  of  supernatural  beings. 
When  the  child  was  born  they  had  to  carry  out  in  virtue  of  their  marriage 
contract  a  series  of  religious  ceremonies  soon  after  the  birth  and  periodically 
during  the  various  crises  of  their  offspring's  life.  Finally,  when  separated 
by  death,  the  survivor  had  again  to  document  the  religious  nature  of 
marriage  by  acting  as  chief  mourner.  And  this  is  the  pattern  of  the 
religious  aspect  of  marriage  in  most  communities.  But  of  an  exclusively 
secular  marriage  in  a  primitive  community  I  have  never  heard — nor  can 
I  conceive  of  it." 

"And  what  is  the  moral  to  be  drawn  from  that?"  asked  one  of  the 
audience.  "Do  you  want  us  to  return  to  a  fully  religious  type  of  marriage 
— introduce  perhaps  suttee — and  submit  our  marriage  laws  to  a  new 
Grand  Inquisition?" 

"I  do  not  think  so.  All  my  lessons  are  indirect  and  not  by  return  to 
precedent.  The  universal  religious  character  of  marriage  is  to  me  mainly 
relevant  as  a  symptom  of  the  high  value  in  which  marriage  is  held  by  every 
community.  The  main  function  of  religion  is  to  hall-mark  certain  con- 
tracts, certain  arrangements;  to  make  them  important  and  ethically  bind- 
ing. You  modern  people  may  have  decided  completely  to  jettison  formal 
rehgion.  Have  you  also  discredited  all  moral  attitudes?  Have  you  lost  all 
sense  of  value  and  sanctity?  If  so,  there  is  no  common  matter  for  our  dis- 
cussion, so  I  shall  assume  the  contrary.  But  if  you  have  values  left,  can 
you  not  understand  that  the  main  lesson — and  an  entirely  rational  lesson — 
to  be  drawn  from  anthropology  is  that  the  institution  of  marriage  has 
had  this  enormous  value  to  all  human  communities  however  primitive?" 

"Yes,  but  what  is  the  raison  d'etre  of  this  high  value  set  on  marriage? 



Have  we  not  done  in  our  modern  world  with  the  motives  as  well  as  the 

Flapper  v.  fetish  of  sentiment 

**Yes,*'  added  the  Flapper,  who  had  been  listening  and  now  joined  in  the 
discussion.  "We  have  lost  your  great  fetish  of  matrimonial  sanctity — the 
sacred,  sentimental  love.  You  have  sanctified  love  by  making  it  into  a 
forbidden  fruit  with  sex  as  its  core.  Sex  is  the  most  forbidden  part  of  the 
forbidden  fruit.  With  all  its  sanctity  you  moralists  could  never  swallow  it. 
It  did  stick  in  your  throat — Adam's  apple,  the  symbol  of  patriarchal 
hypocrisy.  We  have  completely  transformed  love — we  have  made  it  into 
pleasurable  love-making.  And  there  are  no  precedents  to  teach  us  anything. 
Your  anthropology  breaks  down  completely  at  this  point.  Birth  control, 
the  equahty  of  sexes,  economic  independence  of  women,  are  brand  new. 
We  have  to  create  an  entirely  new  world  for  the  new,  free,  love." 

"But  that  is  an  old  story."  The  Functional  Anthropologist  smiled  at  the 
Flapper.  "The  oldest  story  of  all — that  of  the  new  generation  creating 
always  a  new  world  for  the  first  time.  Your  experimental  love-making 
based  on  equality  of  sex,  on  contraception  or  avoidance  of  physiological 
results,  and  on  economic  independence,  has  a  very  long  history.  The 
pattern  of  behaviour  which  allows  a  free  pre-nuptial  unchastity  is  well 
known  not  only  to  the  anthropologist  who  has  studied  the  world  of  islands 
scattered  over  the  Pacific,  or  the  African  societies,  or  any  part  of  the 
primitive  world  for  that  matter,  but  also  to  anyone  who  knows  the  life 
of  European  peasantry  with  their  'trial  nights,*  their  'window  visits,'  their 
finding  out  not  only  whether  two  people  are  physiologically  well  suited, 
but  whether  they  can  produce  a  child  together. 

"And  the  story  is  always  the  same,"  went  on  the  Functional  Anthro- 
pologist. "In  the  long  run,  the  young  people,  free  to  mate  at  will,  become 
tired  of  change,  of  mere  sexual  pleasure,  and  it  grows  stale  on  them 
even  as  petting  parties  grow  stale  and  sterile  after  a  time.  In  our  com- 
munity, since  there  is  a  stigma  attached  to  the  system,  since  it  very 
often  goes  hand  in  hand  with  alcohoHc  poisoning  and  an  abnormal  life, 
many  people  go  under.  In  a  primitive  community,  where  personal  sensi- 
bilities are  lower,  where  the  whole  arrangement  is  traditionally  sanctioned, 
the  process  runs  smoothly.  Young  people  sow  their  wild  oats  gradually 
and  naturally.  They  cast  off  the  surfeit  of  sex  with  experimental  dabbling 
in  sex,  and  they  gradually  find  out  that  erotic  approaches  only  have  value 
when  they  are  accompanied  by  a  real  attachment,  by  the  charm  which 
comes  from  congenial  personality  and  the  affection  which  clings  to  the 
right  sort  of  character.  And  the  social  system  expresses  and  sanctions  this 
natural  trend  of  psychological  affairs.  A  liaison  of  long  standing  is  ex- 
pected to  mature  into  marriage." 



The  hnportance  of  being  married 

"I  still  can't  understand,"  said  the  Flapper,  impressed  but  not  convinced, 
"why  these  people  marry  at  all." 

"There  is  some  surface  mystery  about  it,  but  if  you  observe  any  native 
tribe  or  any  European  peasants,  or  even  your  friends  in  the  free  communi- 
ties of  the  Petting  Tribe  in  our  culture,  you  will  find  the  same  phenomena. 
There  is  a  desire  for  a  full,  open,  pubKc  declaration  of  the  fact  that  I 
and  my  lover  are  lovers;  that  nobody  else  should  interfere  between  us; 
that  we  have  legal  rights  to  one  another." 

"But  that  simply  is  possessive  jealousy,"  said  the  Flapper,  at  once  roused 
into  moral  indignation  and  feminine  protest  as  this  horrid  word,  the 
symbol  of  patriarchal  tyranny,  formed  in  her  speech  centres. 

"Certainly,  if  you  wish  to  call  it  by  this  name.  Jealousy  is  one  of  the 
most  fundamental  sentiments  of  man  and  woman  alike.  I  have  done  my 
field  work  in  a  matriarchal  community  with  as  much  freedom  given  to 
sexual  impulses  as  anywhere  else  in  the  world,  with  as  high  position  given 
to  woman  and  as  much  economic  independence  secured  to  her  in  marriage 
as  has  ever  been  recorded — and  yet,  there,  men  and  women,  when  really 
in  love,  were  morbidly,  passionately  jealous  of  each  other.  Their  jealousy 
might  bend  before  custom,  but  it  was  always  there.  And  since  custom 
guaranteed  exclusive  sexual  rights  only  after  marriage,  two  young  people, 
after  they  became  certain  that  they  loved  each  other,  always  wanted  to 
marry.  They  wanted  to  declare  their  love  publicly.  They  wanted  to  be 
certain  of  each  other's  permanent  affections.  Nothing  would  satisfy  them 
but  marriage.  And  marriage  gave  them  also  the  full  status  in  society. 
And  this,  by  the  way,  is  not  the  exception,  but  the  universal  rule  among 
all  primitive  communities.  A  man  is  not  a  full  member  of  the  tribe  before 
he  marries,  and  a  woman  who  is  a  spinster  is  an  anomaly — a  monster  in 
fact.  So  much  so  that  she  does  not  exist.  One  of  the  most  profound  dif- 
ferences between  primitive  and  civilised  societies  is  that  there  are  no  un- 
married people  among  the  so-called  savage  and  barbarous  nations  of  the 

"Where  is  all  this  leading  to?"  asked  the  Flapper,  half  puzzled,  half 

"There  are  several  conclusions  to  be  drawn.  For  the  moment  I  was 
trying  to  show  to  you  that  the  legal  contract — that  is,  the  public  act 
declaring  mutual  appropriation — is  not  a  pathological  outgrowth  of  puri- 
tanism,  since  it  exists  among  the  most  non-puritanical  communities.  Love, 
by  its  very  nature,  tends  to  be  mixed  up  with  law.  Society — and  by  this 
I  don't  mean  a  super-personal  being,  but  the  integral  of  the  various  moral 
and  cultural  forces  embodied  in  tradition — society  then  decrees  that  in 
order  to  be  a  full  member  of  a  tribe  a  man  must  marry,  and  a  woman  must 
become  a  wife.  And  this  traditional  force  of  law,  order  and  moraHty 



decrees  also  that  marriage  must  be  distinct,  sharply  demarcated  from  an 
ordinary  liaison." 

"What  do  you  mean  by  this?" 

"Weil,  in  the  first  place,  marriage  gives  entirely  different  privileges  to 
both  partners.  Even  when,  as  in  the  various  non-puritanical  communities, 
two  people  are  known  to  live  together  as  lovers  and  fully  allowed  to  do  so, 
they  do  not  receive  any  guarantee  of  permanence  and  exclusiveness  until 
they  are  married.  In  the  second  place,  the  act  of  marriage  changes  what 
was  a  simple,  personal  relationship  into  a  sociological  event.  Marriage 
usually  implies  a  considerable  amount  of  economic  contribution  from  the 
family  of  either  consort  and  the  establishment  of  an  independent  house- 
hold, of  which  the  man  becomes  the  master  and  woman  the  mistress. 
Marriage  thus  gives  to  man  and  woman  a  sphere  of  action,  of  influence, 
which  they  desire  to  have,  but — and  this  is  the  most  important  thing  to 
remember — in  this  new  establishment  both  partners  have  to  work  together. 
They  know  it  well,  and  they  chose  each  other  on  account  of  their  compati- 
bility of  character.  The  blending  of  sexual  attraction  with  the  deeper 
values  of  personality  lies  in  the  very  nature  of  marriage.'* 

Bigger  and  better  petting  parties 

"But,"  said  the  Flapper  pensively,  "what  you  seem  to  advocate  there  is 
Bigger  and  Better  petting  parties  on  the  Trobriand  pattern.  Shall  we  have 
our  marriage  organised  by  allowing  young  people  to  mate  promiscuously 
and  gradually  to  select  each  other  by  trial  and  error?  If  this  is  your  argu- 
ment you  don't  seem  to  differ  profoundly  from  the  Misbehaviourists 
against  whom  you  seem  to  have  been  inveighing." 

"If  I  were  to  advise  you  to  imitate  my  Trobrianders  or  any  other 
savage  tribe  it  would  only  be  if  you  chose  to  adopt  their  whole  cultural 
outlook,  their  limited  range  of  emotions,  the  coarseness  and  one-sidedness 
of  their  physiological  equipment.  In  fact,  knowing  that  you  are  racially 
not  a  Trobriander  I  should  say  that  you  would  run  the  risk  of  moral  and 
emotional  bankruptcy  if  you  were  to  imitate  them.  You  modern  people 
preach  the  building  up  of  human  personality  and  yet  you  wish  to  destroy 
marriage,  the  relationship  in  which  personality  is  best  expressed;  and 
parenthood,  the  relationship  in  which  the  building  up  of  new  personalities 
is  vested." 

The  anthropologist y  the  sensible  womany  birth  control 

Here,  at  this  last  sentence,  a  stray  figure  entered  into  the  discussion — a 
lonely  figure,  the  Sensible  Woman. 

"It  seems  strange,"  she  said,  "that,  speaking  as  an  anthropologist,  you 
only  now  touch  upon  what  to  me  seems  the  capital  point  in  marriage — 
that  is,  children.  Surely  you  can't  discuss  the  relationship  of  human 
mating  without  thinking  of  its  fruits." 



"This,"  replied  the  Anthropologist,  "is  quite  true.  One  of  the  most 
mysterious  rules  of  primitive  life  is  that  an  unmarried  woman  must  not 
become  pregnant,  even  as  we  in  our  society — or  let  us  better  say  in  that 
of  our  mothers  or  grandmothers — would  always  condone  more  easily  a 
'false  step'  if  it  did  not  lead  to  its  natural  consequences.  Savages  usually 
allow  as  much  sexual  Hberty  as  you  like,  but  penalize  premarital  preg- 

"Surely"  (here  the  Birth  Control  Expert  became  interested)  "this  must 
mean  that  they  know  of  some  means  of  contraception?" 

"Not  necessarily.  In  my  own  field  work  I  came  in  contact  with  com- 
munities where  unmarried  motherhood  was  very  much  looked  askance  at. 
Remarkably  enough,  very  few  girls  conceived  before  marriage,  and  yet 
I  am  absolutely  sure  that  they  knew  of  no  contraceptives." 

"How  do  you  explain  it?" 

"I  cannot  explain  it.  I  know  that  abortion  is  sometimes  practised  which 
stops  short  pre-nuptial  pregnancy.  The  natives  are  not  aware  of  the 
physiological  consequences  of  intercourse.  They  explain  pregnancy  as  due 
to  spiritual  influences,  and  against  this  physiological  background  they 
construct  a  plausible  theory  of  how  an  ancestral  spirit  waits  until  the  girl 
is  married.  They  also  have  a  vague  feeling  that  pre-nuptial  conception  is 
a  punishment  for  too  much  wantonness.  But  in  reality  the  only  explana- 
tion that  I  can  offer  is  that  when  a  young  girl  from  maturity,  or  even 
before,  practises  promiscuous  intercourse,  she  does  not  conceive.  When, 
with  marriage,  she  is  confined  to  one  male,  fertility  again  returns.  In  some 
communities,  such  as  those  of  Polynesia,  I  am  told,  rude  primitive  contra- 
ceptives are  known,  and  there  certainly  abortion  is  practised  on  an  exten- 
sive scale.  In  other  tribes  the  erotic  interests  of  unmarried  people  are 
satisfied  without  leading  to  full  consummation.  In  other  tribes  again, 
the  association  between  marriage  and  pregnancy  is  brought  about  by  the 
most  direct  logical,  and  let  us  add,  charitable  rule.  As  soon  as  the  woman 
conceives  she  has  to  be  married  by  her  lover.  Since  in  most  of  these  com- 
munities children  are  an  asset  and  not  a  liability  this  rule  is  enforced  by 
positive  inducement  and  not  by  penal  sanctions. 

"But  right  through  a  whole  range  of  human  societies  the  principle  of 
legitimacy,  the  rule  that  child-bearing  requires  a  male  partner,  the  legal 
head  and  guardian  of  the  children,  is  universal.  This  rule  is  really  the  basis 
of  family  life.  It  declares  that  the  group  of  mother  and  child  is  not  com- 
plete without  the  male;  that  the  full  procreative  group  is  the  family  con- 
sisting of  husband,  wife  and  children." 

The  masculine  matriarch 

At  this  point  the  formidable  figure  of  the  Professing  Feminist  closed  in 
upon  the  discussion: 

"All  this  might  have  been  very  well  among  savages,  but  we  modern 



women  want  above  all  to  eliminate  the  male.  If  we  choose  we  still  shall 
have  children,  but  they  will  be  anonymous  babies  by  an  anonymous 

''Then  you  want,"  replied  presently  the  Anthropologist,  "a  return  to  the 
glorious  tradition  of  the  matriarchal  past.  You  want  to  return  to  that 
feminine  society  conjured  up  by  the  creative  imagination  of  Bachofen  and 
recently  presented  in  a  rehashed  and  somewhat  garbled  form  by  that 
publicistic,  pseudo-prophet  of  false  feminism.  Dr.  Briffault." 

Here  the  Sensible  Woman  interposed:  ''No,  we  modern  women  aspire  to 
real  feminism.  The  man-aping  feminist — the  Masculine  Matriarch — pays 
only  lip-service  to  womanhood.  In  reality  she  wants  to  enslave  us  to  the 
masculine  ideal.  We  true  feminists  don't  try  to  raise  the  dignity  of  woman 
by  eliminating  her  essential  roles  in  society.  On  the  contrary,  we  want  to 
secure  her  a  position  in  modern  life  in  that  capacity  in  which  she  need 
not  imitate  man  any  more  than  she  can  be  imitated  by  him.  We  want  the 
woman,  as  the  mother,  to  dictate  some  at  least  of  our  new  laws  and  new 

"With  this  point  of  view  I  am  fully  in  sympathy,"  hastened  to  add  the 
Functional  Anthropologist.  "Some  women  at  least  will  still  desire  to  be- 
come mothers — not  all,  perhaps,  but  quite  enough  to  prevent  the  disap- 
pearance of  our  race.  Let  us  concentrate  our  attention  on  them.  Will 
these  women  desire  also  to  look  after  their  own  children — to  be  real 
mothers — or  will  they  be  prepared  to  hand  over  the  fruit  of  their  love, 
of  their  suffering,  the  most  precious  part  of  their  bodily  self  and  of  their 
sentiments,  to  some  state  institution,  to  a  communistic  baby  farm? 

"The  teaching  of  genuine  anthropology  is  that  the  whole  idea  of  group 
marriage  and  group  maternity  is  preposterous.  On  the  contrary,  one  of 
the  most  significant  quaint  and  incredible  customs  of  primitive  man  is 
the  couvade,  a  custom  according  to  which  the  husband  at  childbirth 
mimics  the  physiological  disabilities  of  his  wife — goes  to  bed  swooning,  his 
limbs  swaddled,  demanding  tender  cares,  potions  and  a  whole  show  of 
anxiety,  while  his  wife  briskly  gets  up  from  childbed,  takes  up  domestic 
duties,  and  even  looks  after  him.  The  couvade  in  its  outspoken  forms  is 
scattered  over  the  world,  but  not  universal.  What  is  universal  is  the  strict 
solidarity  of  husband  and  wife  during  gestation,  at  childbirth  and  after- 
wards. The  husband  shares  in  his  wife's  pregnancy  taboos.  He  plays  an 
important  part  at  childbirth,  warding  off  the  dangers,  counteracting  the 
evil  magic.  And  he  takes  an  active  share  in  the  tender  care  of  the  infant." 

"And  what  is  the  lesson  of  all  this?"  snorted  the  Aggressive  Feminist. 

"The  lesson  is  that  the  legal  'shackles,'  that  all  the  economic  burdens 
and  habilities,  that  all  the  apparatus  of  a  united  household — that  all  this 
is  not  an  artificial  and  unnecessary  ingredient  of  modern  marriage.  Love 
and  courtship,  as  we  have  seen,  lead  naturally  to  permanent  cohabitation 
based  on  a  legal  contract.  This  contract  is  necessary  because  love  naturally 



leads  to  the  production  of  children,  and  children,  when  produced,  must  be 
cared  for,  cannot  be  thrown  on  the  rubbish  heap  or  thrown  onto  the 
communal  care  of  the  Tribe  or  Society.  The  mother  is  the  person  physi- 
ologically designated  to  do  this,  to  look  after  it  tenderly,  to  give  it  all 
that  it  needs  in  nourishment,  in  emotion,  in  education,  and  the  man  as- 
sociated with  her  in  love-making  has  also  an  innate  emotional  response 
which  is  culturally  affirmed  in  these  pregnancy  and  post-natal  observances 
which  we  have  been  discussing.  The  strong  sentiment  of  paternity  makes 
him  respond  naturally  and  take  over  the  role  of  joint  partner  and  pro- 
tector of  his  pregnant  wife  and  later  of  her  offspring.  Thus  we  have 
what  you  like  to  call  legal  coercion,  and  what  more  correctly  is  mutual 
security  due  to  an  open  and  public  contract  inevitably  associated  with 
the  full  expression  of  sexual  love.  But  man  cannot  live  by  love  alone — 
still  less  can  woman  and  her  children.  An  economic  basis  is  necessary  for 
the  family.  Marriage  is  inevitably  an  economic  partnership  for  the  com- 
mon running  and  provision  of  the  household.  Economics  is  not  the  prime 
mover,  but  an  inevitable  element  of  marriage." 

"And  sure  enough — as  I  had  expected  you  to  do — in  your  argument 
you  have  dropped  out  religion,"  chipped  in  the  Modern  Man,  not  without 

"Religion  comes  in,  as  it  naturally  must,  wherever  human  relations  are 
put  to  great  emotional  strain,  while,  at  the  same  time,  based  on  strong 
passions  and  emotional  tendencies.  Laws  and  customs  with  their  sanctions 
and  coercive  forces  can  compel  people  to  carry  out  definite  tangible  ele- 
mentary services,  but  law  cannot  penetrate  the  nooks  and  corners  of 
sentimental  life.  Definite  moral  laws  based  on  supernatural  sanctions  sup- 
ply the  only  suitable  force  on  which  marriage  and  parenthood  can  be 
based.  If  we  take  religion  in  the  widest  sense — that  is,  a  system  of  values 
based  on  deep  conviction — all  personal  human  relations  of  this  stable 
and  integral  nature  will  have  to  be  submitted  to  religion." 

Behaviourist:  "You  have  been  speaking  all  the  time  as  if  Behaviourism 
had  not  come  to  change  all  our  outlook  on  human  nature.  You  speak  of 
paternal  instinct  as  well  as  maternal  instinct.  We  know  now  that  all  this 
is  nonsense.  J.  B.  Watson  has  convincingly  proved  that  there  are  only  two 
real  instincts:  the  shrinking  from  contact  with  a  frog  and  the  reflex  of 
clutching  when  a  baby  is  dropped  from  a  height  of  twenty  yards  into  a 
cold  bath." 

"I  am  not  quite  convinced  yet  by  the  gospel  of  the  Behaviourists,"  re- 
plied the  Anthropologist.  "But  I  did  not  speak  of  any  instincts.  Nothing 
is  as  destructive  of  sound  psychological  thinking  as  either  to  believe  that 
all  these  are  'instincts'  or  else  to  believe  that  human  nature  is  indefinitely 
plastic.  There  may  be  innate  tendencies  which,  under  any  social  and 
cultural  conditions,  inevitably  integrate  into  certain  patterns.  My  reading 
of  human  history  is  that  the  highly  complex  and  certainly  not  instinctive 



attitudes  of  individual  maternity  and  individual  fatherhood  are  such  in- 
evitable patterns  or  sentiments.  I  believe  that  they  are  deeply  correlated 
with  the  structure,  not  only  of  our  society  and  Christian  culture,  but  of 
every  society  that  ever  has  existed.  I  find  that  it  is  in  the  inevitable 
concatenation  of  sexual  attraction  with  deeper  personal  attraction,  desire 
to  mate  with  the  desire  to  bring  forth  children,  all  the  physiological  facts 
of  parenthood  with  the  emotional  response  to  children — I  believe  that  it 
is  in  this  concatenation  that  the  strength  of  marriage  and  the  family  lies. 
Why,  look  all  around  us.  With  all  the  facilities  of  safe  and  easy  satisfac- 
tion of  lust,  with  all  the  preaching  about  freedom  and  the  need  to  be 
happy,  with  all  the  real  economic  independence  of  men  and  women — why, 
people  should  avoid  marriage  like  pestilence.  Statistics  ought  to  register 
not  only  a  falling  birth  rate,  but  the  disappearance  of  registered  mar- 
riages. Do  we  find  anything  of  the  sort?  On  the  contrary.  The  mystery 
of  people  still  marrying — and  divorcing  too,  certainly,  but  remarrying 
again — people  having  children,  people  submitting  to  all  this  terrible  evil 
of  married  life — this  is  the  real  problem,  and  the  answer  to  the  problem  I 
think  I  have  indicated.  You  will  have  to  give  it  yourselves  from  your 
personal  experiences  and  actions." 

Modern  hetairism 

Here  a  new  figure  entered  the  Hsts,  the  intelligent  and  level-headed  Man 
of  the  World: 

"On  the  whole,  I  tend  to  agree  with  you.  But  this  is  not  very  helpful 
yet — not  to  me,  at  least.  Your  conclusions  are  conservative  and  so  is  all 
my  personal  bias,  but  after  all  we  have  to  recognize  that  things  have 
changed.  You  have  spoken  yourself  about  the  fact  that  the  savages  tried 
love  and  mating  in  a  way  which  does  not  recommend  itself  to  our  tastes. 
Where  should  we  move  as  regards  the  mere  fact  of  love  and  sexual  rela- 
tions? You  have  also  indicated  that  at  one  point  at  least  there  is  an  un- 
precedented change  in  our  community.  No  savages  tolerate  the  bachelor 
and  the  spinster:  there  are  no  unmarried  people.  This  I  believe,  not  only 
on  your  authority  but  from  all  I  have  heard,  to  be  exactly  true.  But  we 
have  now  large  sections  of  our  community  who  remain  unmarried.  What 
about  them?  Are  we  going  to  preach  to  them  simply  that  marriage  is 
the  only  goal  and  the  only  satisfaction  of  instinctive  drives — that  the 
family  is  the  best?  They  have  had  this  preaching  for  a  long  time,  and 
now  there  are  good  grounds  for  assuming  that  the  teaching  will  gradually 
lose  influence.  We  have  another  tendency  in  our  modern  times — a  tendency 
less  established  so  far,  in  fact  without  any  rights  of  citizenship,  but  a 
pronounced  tendency  nevertheless — I  mean  the  recognition  that  some 
people  are  not  attracted  by  the  other  sex  at  all,  but  must  find  happiness 
in  homosexual  friendships.  What  have  you  got  to  say  about  this  problem?" 

"I  am  quite  prepared  to  take  up  your  challenge.  In  fact  I  think  you 



have  set  the  problem  in  absolutely  the  correct  terms.  I  believe  that,  with 
reference  to  the  whole  business  of  procreation,  we  are  rapidly  progressing 
towards  what  might  be  called  a  specific  stratification  by  innate  endow- 
ment, by  the  balance  between  passion  and  sentiment  and  by  the  relation 
between  emotional  life  and  what  might  be  called  constructive  ambition. 
I  think  in  the  first  place — and  I  have  already  indicated  it — that  the 
gradual  absorption  of  human  personality  by  intellectual  work,  by  political 
constructive  ambitions,  by  the  mere  interest  in  the  technique  of  modern 
culture,  I  believe  that  all  this  has  relegated  the  physiological  interests  to  a 
secondary  place.  At  least,  these  physiological  interests  are  directly  in  con- 
flict with  the  active  life  of  a  man  or  a  woman  immersed  in  civilization. 

"I  think  that  here  again,  as  in  every  problem  which  has  to  do  with 
reproduction,  women  must  be  considered  first.  There  are  now  some  women 
who  either  have  not  enough  initial  interest  in  maternity  or  early  become 
absorbed  in  other  pursuits,  who  do  not  want  to  become  mothers.  Should 
they  be  debarred  from  sex?  I  personally  should  answer  in  the  negative.  I 
think  that  such  women  have  the  full  right  to  be  happy  in  their  own  way. 
Anyhow,  what  is  the  use  of  arguing  about  it.  Unless  we  instituted  a 
morality  police  which  would  employ  half  the  population  of  the  world  to 
spy  on  the  other  half's  private  doings,  unless  we  instituted  key-hole  peep- 
ing and  dirty  linen  nosing  legislation,  compared  with  which  the  prohibi- 
tion laws  are  supremely  logical  and  easily  enforceable,  unless  we  prosti- 
tuted the  state  in  order  to  protect  prostitution  and  penalize  free  love,  we 
should  be  for  ever  powerless  to  deal  with  the  free  sexual  life  of  the  inde- 
pendent woman.  We  do  not  expect  the  modern  bachelor  to  be  chaste  and 
innocent,  a  St.  Joseph  or  St.  Stanislas.  We  have  not  many  illusions — still 
fewer  moral  indignations — about  the  actual  virginity  of  the  modern 
latch-key  girl.  The  class  of  people  who  can  and  do  carry  on  free  love  al- 
ready does  exist." 

"What  do  you  think  of  Judge  Lindsey's  'companionate  marriage'?" 
asked  the  Flapper. 

"Personally  I  believe  that  the  institutional  changes  which  go  under  this 
label  are  the  soundest.  I  admire  Judge  Ben  B.  Lindsey  as  a  staunch  fellow- 
conservative.  The  advantage  of  companionate  marriage  is  that  it  repre- 
sents the  institutionahzed,  straightforward,  honest  form  of  what  is  al- 
ready going  on  in  a  clandestine  and  therefore  dishonest  and  uncontrollable 
manner.  Companionate  marriage  would  also  allow  young  people  to  test  the 
chances  of  making  a  success  of  real  marriage.  But  even  the  companionate 
marriage  imposes  shackles  and  introduces  difficulties  which  the  extreme 
type  of  bachelor  or  spinster  psychology  would  like  to  eschew. 

Stratified  morality 

"I  believe  that  in  due  course  what  will  happen  is  a  change  in  our  moral 
outlook.  We  shall  introduce  what  might  be  called  stratified  morahty  as 



well  as  stratified  institutions.  The  reproductive  group — that  is,  men  and 
women  who  are  prepared  to  carry  on  the  race,  to  look  after  the  children 
and  to  lead  the  fullest  physiological  life — will,  I  believe,  have  the  premium 
of  natural  virtue.  That  is,  they  will  achieve  the  fullest  measure  of  human 
happiness.  Yet,  with  all  this,  the  reproductive  group  will  claim  special 
privileges.  Already  now  there  is — to  start  at  the  crudest  end — discrimi- 
native taxation  against  unmarried  people  in  some  countries.  In  this  con- 
text I  am  prepared  to  give  three  cheers  for  Mussolini,  small  as  is  our  men- 
tal and  emotional  affinity  in  most  other  matters.  The  group  of  people  who 
need  modern  conditions  can  form  Haisons  and  refuse  to  accept  any  conse- 
quences. They  will  have  to  be  submitted  to  greater  taxation,  to  higher 
exactions  of  public  services  and,  perhaps,  to  certain  political  and  social 
disabilities.  I  hope  they  will.  Finally,  if  the  claims  of  the  homosexuals  are 
justified,  there  should  be  laws  which  allow  them  to  live  happily  within 
a  sphere  of  arrangements  in  which  they  are  protected  from  the  inevitable 
odium  of  the  normal  sections  and  at  the  same  time  not  tempted  to  infect 
the  others. 

"The  greatest  difficulty  for  the  future  which  I  foresee  is  some  sort  of 
boundaries  or  isolating  layers  which  would  protect  the  several  types 
stratified  by  reference  to  reproduction  from  each  other.  For  there  is  no 
doubt  that  monogamous  morality  suffers  by  contact  with  the  ethics  of 
free  love  and  is  driven  into  retaliating  in  turn  with  scorn  and  moral 
abuse,  with  attempts  at  puritanical  police  measures,  with  censorship  and 
the  brandishing  of  taboos.  Both  sides  have  legitimate  grievances.  Is  it 
possible  for  them  to  come  to  terms?" 

Facts  V,  a  fooVs  paradise 

"What  you  say  here,'*  rejoined  the  Man  of  the  World,  "is  no  doubt  true 
enough.  But  do  you  imagine  three  states  within  the  state  or  three  organ- 
ized groups  within  each  society — the  Reproductive  Kingdom,  the  Free 
Love  Republic,  and  the  Homosexual  Soviets?  This  seems  to  me  fantastic.*' 
"No,"  answered  the  Anthropologist,  "you  take  me  too  concretely  and 
literally.  I  only  want  to  draw  your  attention  to  certain  facts  and  ask  the 
question.  Are  we  going  to  live  in  a  fool's  paradise  and  preach  the  absolute 
sanctity  of  monogamy,  brand  contraception  as  ^criminal  practices,'  talk 
about  the  *new  and  utterly  perverse  morality'  when  the  shghtest  departure 
from  the  rigorous  canons  of  Christian  marriage  is  meant,  and  stupify  our 
moral  conscience  by  this  sort  of  talk  while  the  'hateful  abominations'  are 
going  on  all  around  us,  and  are  going  on  without  truly  injuring  any- 
body's health,  happiness,  digestion  or  spiritual  integrity?  The  terms  of 
invective  I  have  borrowed,  as  you  no  doubt  recognise,  from  the  last 
Encyclical  Letter  of  my  friend  Pius  XI.  I  am  afraid  I  cannot  commend 
him  for  this  latest  production  of  his.  This  ostrich  poUcy  will  prevent  us 



from  seeing  clearly  two  or  three  points  on  which  I  have  insisted.  First 
of  all,  namely,  that  the  business  of  reproduction  requires  a  well-estab- 
Hshed  and  safely  legalized  institution  of  family  and  marriage.  In  the 
second  place,  that  this  institution  in  modern  conditions  does  need  addi- 
tional privileges  and  an  additional  bolstering,  not  only  by  nice  words, 
but  by  definite  discriminative  enactments  in  its  favour.  And  finally,  that 
there  is  need  for  some  sort  of  protective  tolerance  all  round  in  order  to 
prevent  the  spread  of  the  infection  of  moral  censure  and  the  infection  of 
moral  laxity  from  one  camp  to  the  other." 

Fed  up  with  democracy 

"But  are  you  not  working  directly  against  all  the  modern  trend  towards 
levelling,  which  is  towards  complete  uniformity — towards  one  standard 
for  everybody  and  everything?" 

"I  think  this  tendency  is  already  beginning  to  spend  itself.  Democracy 
has  not  made  the  world  safe  for  us  to  live  in.  It  is  difficult  to  imagine 
even  now  the  same  social  circle  embracing  Al  Capone  and  Mahatma 
Gandhi,  D.  H.  Lawrence  and  Jix,  Henry  Ford  and  Stahn.  The  driving 
force  of  democratic  levelling  was  the  abolition,  first  of  all,  of  hereditary 
privileged  classes,  and  later  of  distinctions  by  wealth  and  by  inherited 
economic  privilege.  The  levelling  has  gone  too  far,  beyond  the  limits  of 
fairness  and  decency,  of  justice  and  real  needs.  The  levelling  has  degraded 
man  to  a  spare  part  in  the  senseless  machinery.  The  revolt  against  it  must 
come.  Wq  are  in  fact  stratified  by  taste,  by  culture,  by  temperament.  I 
prefer  the  Viennese  Waltz,  you  prefer  the  vulgar  ragtimes,  and  a  third 
man  may  prefer  a  symphony  of  Beethoven.  Shall  we  all  be  compelled  to 
endure  the  endless  drone  of  international  jazz?  Can  we  not  have  each  our 
own  circle  and  our  own  institutions  in  which  we  can  exercise  our  tastes? 
The  uniformity  of  fashion,  of  food  and  drink  (or  its  absence),  the  uni- 
formity introduced  by  the  mass  production  of  the  cheapest  or  'best' 
brands  of  everything  has  attacked  and  perhaps  hopelessly  destroyed  any 
differentiation  in  externals.  Are  we  going  to  allow  this  destructive  levelling 
to  enter  into  the  most  personal  of  our  interests?  Are  we  all  going  to  be 
made  promiscuous  by  command,  or  monogamous  by  law?  My  belief  is 
that  in  its  very  nature  marriage  is  fundamental  and  permanent,  but 
marriage  will  never  be  easy.  There  is  not  one  simple  formula  for  making 
it  perfect.  Whether  you  follow  Bertrand  Russell  or  St.  Paul,  whether  you 
believe  in  Judge  Lindsey  or  in  St.  Joseph,  you  always  have  to  fight  your 
own  personal  battle.  But  as  an  institution  for  the  regulation  of  the  re- 
productive process  marriage  will,  I  believe,  win  the  day.  But  with  all  due 
deference  to  traditional  morality  I  see  forces  in  the  modern  world  which 
will  demand  an  independent  and  just  treatment  of  unmarried  love  and 
perhaps  even  of  homosexual  love  side  by  side  with  the  standardized  insti- 



tutions.  When  they  receive  this  just  and  fair  treatment  the  now  rebellious 
classes  may,  I  hope,  become  less  aggressive  and  less  destructive  to  what 
is  to  me  most  valuable  in  human  society:  reproduction,  marriage,  the 
family  and  the  home." 

iiiiiiii  5  iiiniiiiiiiiiiiii 




Psycho-analysis  and  anthropology 

The  infection  by  psycho-analysis  of  the  neighbouring  fields  of  science — 
notably  that  of  anthropology,  folklore,  and  sociology — has  been  a  very 
rapid  and  somewhat  inflammatory  process.  The  votaries  of  Freud,  or 
some  among  them,  have  displayed  in  their  missionary  zeal  an  amount  of 
dogmatism  and  of  aggressiveness  not  calculated  to  allay  the  prejudice 
and  suspicion  which  usually  greet  every  new  extension  of  their  theories. 
Some  of  their  critics,  on  the  other  hand,  go  so  far  as  to  dismiss  all  anthro- 
pological contributions  of  Freud  and  his  school  as  "utterly  preposterous'* 
and  "obviously  futile,"  as  "an  intrigue  with  Ethnology  which  threatens 
disaster  to  both  parties,"  as  "a  striking  demonstration  of  reductio  ad 
absurdum."  ^  This  is  a  harsh  judgment  and  it  carries  much  weight,  coming 
from  one  by  no  means  hostile  to  psycho-analysis  and  thoroughly  well 
acquainted  with  anthropological  problems,  especially  those  discussed  by 
Freud  and  his  school.  This  seems  the  right  moment  to  consider  impartially, 
without  enthusiasm  or  prejudice,  the  scope,  importance,  and  value  of 
Freud's  contribution  to  anthropology. 

Through  the  initiative  and  under  the  direction  of  Prof.  [C.  G.]  Selig- 
man,  who  at  that  time  was  engaged  in  practical  psycho-analysis  of  war 
neuroses,  I  have  been  able  to  apply  some  of  Freud's  conclusions  directly 
to  savage  psychology  and  customs,  while  actually  engaged  in  field-work 
among  the  natives  of  Eastern  New  Guinea. 

This  Letter  to  the  Editor  appeared  in  Nature,  November  3,  1923  (Vol.  112,  No. 
2818),  pp.  650-51,  and  is  reprinted  by  permission. 

*Prof.  G.  Elliot  Smith,  in  Rivers's  Psychology  and  Politics,  1923,  pp.  141-45. 



Freud's  fundamental  conception  of  the  Oedipus  complex  contains  a 
sociological  as  well  as  a  psychological  theory.  The  psychological  theory 
declares  that  much,  if  not  all  of  human  mental  life  has  its  root  in  infantile 
tendencies  of  a  "libidinous"  character,  repressed  later  on  in  childhood  by 
the  paternal  authority  and  the  atmosphere  of  the  patriarchal  family  life. 
Thus  there  is  formed  a  "complex"  in  the  unconscious  mind  of  a  parricidal 
and  "matrogamic"  nature.  The  sociological  implications  of  this  theory 
indicate  that  throughout  the  development  of  humanity  there  must  have 
existed  the  institution  of  individual  family  and  marriage,  with  the  father 
as  a  severe,  nay,  ferocious  patriarch,  and  with  the  mother  representing 
the  principles  of  affection  and  kindness.  Freud's  anthropological  views 
stand  and  fall  with  Westermarck's  theory  of  the  antiquity  and  permanence 
of  individual  and  monogamous  marriage.  Freud  himself  assumes  the  ex- 
istence, at  the  outset  of  human  development,  of  a  patriarchal  family  with 
a  tyrannical  and  ferocious  father  who  repressed  all  the  claims  of  the 
younger  men.^  With  the  hypothesis  of  a  primitive  promiscuity  or  group 
marriage,  Freud's  theories  are  thoroughly  incompatible,  and  in  this  they 
have  the  support,  not  only  of  Westermarck's  classical  researches,  but  also 
of  the  most  recent  contributions  to  our  knowledge  of  primitive  sexual  life. 

When  we  come  to  examine  in  detail  the  original  constitution  of  the 
human  family — not  in  any  hypothetical  primeval  form,  but  as  we  find  it 
in  actual  observation  among  present-day  savages — some  difficulties  emerge. 
We  find,  for  example,  that  there  is  a  form  of  matriarchal  family  in  which 
the  relations  between  children  and  progenitors  do  not  exist  in  the  typical 
form  as  required  by  Freud's  hypothesis  of  the  Oedipus  complex.  Taking 
as  an  example  the  family  as  found  in  the  coral  archipelagoes  of  Eastern 
New  Guinea,  where  I  have  studied  it,  the  mother  and  her  brother  possess 
in  it  all  the  legal  potestas.  The  mother's  brother  is  the  "ferocious  matri- 
arch," the  father  is  the  affectionate  friend  and  helper  of  his  children.  He 
has  to  win  for  himself  the  friendship  of  his  sons  and  daughters,  and  is 
frequently  their  amicable  ally  against  the  principle  of  authority  repre- 
sented by  the  maternal  uncle.  In  fact,  none  of  the  domestic  conditions 
required  for  the  sociological  fulfilment  of  the  Oedipus  complex,  with  its 
repressions,  exist  in  the  Melanesian  family  of  Eastern  New  Guinea,  as  I 
shall  show  fully  in  a  book  shortly  to  be  published  on  the  sexual  life  and 
family  organisation  of  these  natives. 

Again,  the  sexual  repression  within  the  family,  the  taboo  of  incest,  is 
mainly  directed  towards  the  separation  of  brother  and  sister,  although  it 
also  divides  mother  and  son  sexually.  Thus  we  have  a  pattern  of  family 
life  in  which  the  two  elements  decisive  for  psycho-analysis,  the  repressive 
authority  and  the  severing  taboo,  are  "displaced,"  distributed  in  a  man- 

''Cf.  Totem  and  Taboo,  1918,  Chap.  IV,  5,  and  Massen  Psychologie  und  Ich-Analyse 
[Group  Psychology  and  the  Analysis  of  the  Ego,  1922],  Chap.  X. 



ner  different  from  that  found  in  the  patriarchal  family.  If  Freud's  gen- 
eral theory  is  correct,  there  ought  to  be  also  a  change  in  the  thwarted 
desires;  the  repressed  wish  formation  ought  to  receive  a  shape  different 
from  the  Oedipus  complex. 

This  is  as  a  matter  of  fact  what  happens.  The  examination  of  dreams, 
myths,  and  of  the  prevalent  sexual  obsessions  reveals  indeed  a  most  re- 
markable confirmation  of  Freudian  theories.  The  most  important  type  of 
sexual  mythology  centres  round  stories  of  brother-sister  incest.  The  mythi- 
cal cycle  which  explains  the  origin  of  love  and  love  magic  attributes  its 
existence  to  an  act  of  incest  between  brother  and  sister.  There  is  a  notable 
absence  of  the  parricidal  motive  in  their  myth.  On  the  other  hand  the 
motive  of  castration  comes  in,  and  it  is  carried  out  not  on  the  father  but 
on  the  maternal  uncle.  He  also  appears  in  other  legendary  cycles  as  a 
villainous,  dangerous,  and  oppressive  foe. 

In  general  I  have  found  in  the  area  of  my  studies  an  unmistakable  cor- 
relation between  the  nature  of  family  and  kinship  on  one  hand  and  the 
prevalent  "complex"  on  the  other,  a  complex  which  can  be  traced  in 
many  manifestations  of  the  folklore,  customs,  and  institutions  of  these 

To  sum  up,  the  study  of  savage  life  and  some  reflection  on  Freud's 
theories  and  their  application  to  anthropology  have  led  me  to  the  convic- 
tion that  a  great  deal  of  these  theories  requires  modification  and  in  its 
present  form  will  not  stand  the  test  of  evidence — notably  the  theory  of 
lib/do,  the  exaggeration  of  infantile  sexuality,  and  the  manner  in  which 
*'sexual  symbolisation"  is  dealt  with.  The  character  of  the  argumentation 
and  the  manner  and  mannerisms  of  exposition  moreover  often  contain 
such  glaring  surface  absurdities  and  show  such  lack  of  anthropological 
insight  that  one  cannot  wonder  at  the  impatience  of  a  specialist,  such  as 
expressed  in  the  remarks  of  Prof.  Elliot  Smith  quoted  above.  But  with  all 
this,  Freud's  contribution  to  anthropology  is  of  the  greatest  importance 
and  seems  to  me  to  strike  a  very  rich  vein  which  must  be  followed  up. 
For  Freud  has  given  us  the  first  concrete  theory  about  the  relation  be- 
tween instinctive  life  and  social  institution.  His  doctrine  of  repression 
due  to  social  influence  allows  us  to  explain  certain  typical  latent  wishes 
or  ^'complexes,"  found  in  folklore,  by  reference  to  the  organisation  of  a 
given  society.  Inversely  it  allows  us  also  to  trace  the  pattern  of  instinctive 
and  emotional  tendencies  in  the  texture  of  the  social  fabric.  By  making 
the  theories  somewhat  more  elastic,  the  anthropologist  can  not  only  apply 
them  to  the  interpretation  of  certain  phenomena,  but  also  in  the  field  he 
can  be  inspired  by  them  in  the  exploration  of  the  difficult  borderland  be- 
tween social  tradition  and  social  organisation.  How  fruitful  Freud's 
theories  are  in  this  respect  I  hope  to  demonstrate  clearly  in  the  pending 
publication  previously  mentioned. 





Sexual  life  and  marriage  among  primitive  mankind 

Comparative  sociology,  in  many  of  its  branches,  started  with  very  simple 
and  homely  concepts,  and  now,  after  a  career  of  imaginative  and  some- 
what sensational  spinning  of  hypotheses,  we  find  it  returning  in  its  latest 
developments  to  the  position  of  common  sense.  The  subject  of  family  and 
marriage,  of  their  origins  and  evolution,  epitomises  such  a  typical  course 
of  sociological  speculation.  In  the  views  about  the  human  family,  there 
was  first  the  uncritical  assumption  that  the  family  was  the  nucleus  of 
human  society;  that  monogamous  marriage  has  been  the  prototype  of  all 
varieties  of  sex  union;  that  law,  authority  and  government  are  all  derived 
from  patriarchal  power;  that  the  State,  the  Tribe,  economic  co-operation 
and  all  other  forms  of  social  association  have  gradually  grown  out  of 
the  small  group  of  blood  relatives,  issued  from  one  married  couple,  and 
governed  by  the  father.  This  theory  satisfied  common  sense,  supplied  an 
easily  imaginable  course  of  natural  development,  and  was  in  agreement 
with  all  the  unquestioned  authorities,  from  the  Bible  to  Aristotle. 

But  some  sixty  years  ago,  among  the  many  revolutions  in  scientific 
thinking  and  method,  the  family  theory  of  society  seemed  to  have  received 
its  death-blow.  The  independent  researches  of  Bachofen,  Morgan  and 
McLennan  seemed  to  prove  beyond  doubt,  by  the  study  of  survivals 
and  ethnographic  phenomena,  by  methods  of  linguistics,  comparative 
study  and  antiquarian  reconstruction,  that  the  whole  conception  of  pri- 
meval monogamous  marriage  and  early  human  family  was  nothing  but 
a  myth.  Primitive  humanity,  they  said,  lived  in  loosely  organised  hordes, 
in  which  an  almost  complete  lack  of  sexual  regulation,  a  state  of  promis- 
cuity, was  the  usage  and  law.  This,  the  authors  of  this  school  concluded, 
can  be  seen  from  many  survivals,  from  the  analysis  of  classificatory  sys- 
tems of  relationship,  and  from  the  prevalence  of  matrilineal  kinship  and 
matriarchate.  Thus,  instead  of  the  primitive  family  we  have  a  horde; 
instead  of  marriage,  promiscuity;  instead  of  paternal  right,  the  sole  in- 
fluence of  the  mother  and  of  her  relatives  over  the  children.  Some  of  the 
leaders  of  this  school  constructed  a  number  of  successive  stages  of  sexual 
evolution  through  which  humanity  was  supposed  to  have  passed.  Starting 
from  promiscuity,  mankind  went  through  group  marriage,  then  the  so- 
called  consanguineous  family  or  Punalua,  then  polygamy,  till,  in  the 

This  article  was  a  review  of  The  History  of  Human  Marriage  by  Edward 
Westermarck,  and  appeared  in  Nature,  Yol.  109,  No.  273  8  (April  22,  1922),  pp. 
126-30,  and  is  reprinted  by  permission. 



highest  civihsations,  monogamous  marriage  was  reached  as  the  final  prod- 
uct of  development.  Under  this  scheme  of  speculations,  the  history  of 
human  marriage  reads  like  a  sensational  and  somewhat  scandalous  novel, 
starting  from  a  confused  but  interesting  initial  tangle,  redeeming  its  un- 
seemly course  by  a  moral  denouement,  and  leading,  as  all  proper  novels 
should,  to  marriage,  in  which  "they  lived  happily  ever  after." 

After  the  first  triumphs  of  this  theory  were  over,  there  came,  however, 
a  reaction.  The  earhest  and  most  important  criticism  of  these  theories 
arose  out  of  the  very  effort  to  maintain  them. 

In  the  middle  eighties  of  last  century,  a  young  and  then  inexperienced 
Finnish  student  of  anthropology  started  to  add  his  contribution  to  the 
views  of  Bachofen  and  Morgan.  In  the  course  of  his  work,  however,  the 
arguments  for  the  new  and  then  fashionable  theories  began  to  crumple 
in  his  hands,  and  indeed  to  turn  into  the  very  opposite  of  their  initial 
shape.  These  studies,  in  short,  led  to  the  first  publication  by  Prof.  Wester- 
marck  in  1891  of  his  History  of  Human  Marriage,  in  which  the  author 
maintained  that  monogamous  marriage  is  a  primeval  human  institution, 
and  that  it  is  rooted  in  the  individual  family;  that  matriarchate  has  not 
been  a  universal  stage  of  human  development;  that  group  marriage  never 
existed,  still  less  promiscuity,  and  that  the  whole  problem  must  be  ap- 
proached from  the  biological  and  psychological  point  of  view,  and  though 
with  an  exhaustive,  yet  with  a  critical  application  of  ethnological  evi- 
dence. The  book  with  its  theories  arrested  at  once  the  attention  both  of 
all  the  specialists  and  of  a  wider  public,  and  it  has  survived  these  thirty 
years,  to  be  reborn  in  1922  in  an  amplified  fifth  edition  of  threefold  the 
original  size  and  manifold  its  original  value.  For  since  then  Prof.  Wester- 
marck  has  developed  not  only  his  methods  of  inductive  inference  by 
writing  another  book  of  wider  scope  and  at  least  equal  importance, 
Origin  and  Development  of  Moral  Ideas,  but  he  has  also  acquired  a  first- 
hand knowledge  of  savage  races  by  years  of  intensive  ethnographic  field 
work  in  Morocco,  work  which  has  produced  already  numerous  and  most 
valuable  records. 

Where  does  the  problem  stand  now?  First  of  all,  the  contest  is  not 
ended  yet,  and  divergencies  of  opinion  obtain  on  some  fundamental  points, 
while  controversy  has  not  lost  much  of  its  uncompromising  tone.  But  the 
issues  have  narrowed  down  somewhat.  There  is  no  longer  a  question  of 
accepting  the  naive  theory  which  regarded  family  as  a  kind  of  universal 
germ  of  all  social  evolution;  nor,  on  the  other  hand,  does  any  competent 
sociologist  take  very  seriously  the  fifteen  successive  stages  of  promiscuity, 
group  marriage,  Punalua  marriage,  etc.  Prof.  Westermarck  and  his  school 
do  not  maintain  the  rigidly  patriarchal  theory,  and  they  are  fully  aware 
of  the  importance  of  matrilineal  descent,  of  the  maternal  uncle's  authority, 
and  of  the  various  kinship  anomalies  connected  with  matriliny.  The 
classificatory  terms  of  relationship  are,  moreover,  not  considered  by  Prof. 



Westermarck  as  mere  terms  of  address,  but  as  important  indications  of 

The  representatives  of  the  opposite  school  had  also  to  make  some  con- 
cessions, though  rather  reluctantly  and  grudgingly.  Scarcely  any  one 
nowadays  would  be  so  irreverent  towards  our  ape-like  ancestors  and 
ancestresses  as  to  suspect  them  of  living  in  a  general  state  of  promiscuity. 
But  there  is  still  a  formidable  list  of  names,  among  them  some  of  the 
most  eminent  representatives  of  modern  anthropology,  quoted  by  Prof. 
Westermarck  (Vol.  1,  p.  103  «.),  who  consider  primitive  promiscuity  as 
"not  improbable,"  "plausible,"  "by  no  means  untenable,"  and  use  this 
hypothesis  constantly  as  a  skeleton-key  to  open  all  questions  of  sex.  Group 
marriage  is  still,  though  somewhat  faintheartedly,  affirmed  to  have  existed, 
and  even  some  savages  are  forced  to  live  up  to  their  evil  reputation — 
in  the  speculations  and  bare  assertions  of  some  writers.  The  Punalua 
family  leads  an  even  more  shadowy  existence,  merging  into  a  combined 
polyandry  and  polygamy.  The  most  tenacious  survival  of  the  Bachofen- 
Morgan-McLennan  theories  seems  to  be  the  kinship  terms,  themselves  a 
most  fecund  breeding-place  for  all  kinds  of  survival  theories. 

Thus  Prof.  Westermarck  in  this  new  edition  is  not  altogether  relieved 
of  the  necessity  of  dealing  with  the  hypothesis  of  promiscuity,  and  in 
chapters  iii-ix  he  examines  the  various  classes  of  evidence  adduced  in  its 
favour.  There  is  a  number  of  statements  affirming  directly  the  existence 
of  promiscuous  conditions  among  this  or  that  tribe  or  people.  Some  of 
them  come  from  garrulous  and  credulous  writers  of  antiquity  and  have 
to  be  discarded  as  pure  fables;  others,  from  modern  travellers,  equal  them 
in  untrustworthiness  and  futility.  On  this  point  no  one  will  certainly 
controvert  the  author  when  he  says  "that  it  would  be  difficult  to  find  a 
more  untrustworthy  collection  of  statements."  The  investigation  then 
turns  to  that  remarkable  group  of  ethnological  facts — jus  primae  noctis^ 
licence  of  festive  and  religious  character,  prenuptial  and  orgiastic  sexual 
intercourse — ^in  which  the  powerful  instinct  of  sex,  curbed  and  fettered 
by  social  regulations,  takes,  in  its  own  time,  revenge  on  man  by  dragging 
him  down  to  the  level  of  a  beast.  Prof.  Westermarck  fully  admits  the 
importance  and  extent  of  these  phenomena;  his  survey  indeed  shows  the 
extreme  range  and  the  often  astounding  perversity  of  these  deviations. 
But  he  declines  resolutely  to  see  in  any  of  these  facts  a  survival  of  pristine 
promiscuity,  for  in  all  cases  the  facts  reveal  most  powerful  motive  forces, 
and  can  be  attributed  to  definite  psychological  and  social  causes.  The 
theory  of  survival  is  moreover  irreconcilable  with  the  fact  that  we  find, 
side  by  side  with  Hcentious  tribes,  savages  who  maintain  strict  chastity; 
that  some  of  the  most  primitive  ones  are  virtuous,  whilst  the  most  luxuri- 
ant growth  of  licence  is  found  in  more  advanced  communities;  that, 
finally,  civilisation  instead  of  abolishing  these  phenomena  only  modifies 



The  chapters  on  customary  and  regulated  sexual  licence  are  full  of 
penetrating  suggestions,  and  the  facts,  skilfully  marshalled,  are  made  to 
speak  for  themselves,  and  will  supply  a  lasting  compendium  for  students 
of  sexual  psychology.  But  what  appears  most  valuable  in  this,  not  less 
than  in  other  parts  of  the  work,  are  the  methods  and  implications  of  the 
argument.  Prof.  Westermarck  has  an  abhorrence  of  the  now  fashionable 
tendency  of  explaining  the  whole  by  its  part,  the  essential  by  the  irrele- 
vant, the  known  by  the  unknown.  He  refuses  to  construct  out  of  meagre 
and  insufficient  evidence  a  vast,  hypothetical  building,  through  the  nar- 
row windows  of  which  we  would  have  to  gaze  upon  reality,  and  see  only 
as  much  of  it  as  they  allow.  The  obvious,  common-sense  and  essentially 
scientific  way  of  proceeding  is  to  get  firm  hold  of  the  fundamental  aspects 
of  human  nature — in  this  case  the  psychology  of  sex,  the  laws  of  primitive 
human  grouping,  the  typical  beliefs  and  sentiments  of  savage  people — 
and,  in  the  light  of  this,  to  analyse  each  fact  as  we  meet  it.  But  to  con- 
struct the  unverifiable  hypotheses  of  primitive  promiscuity  and  interpret 
facts  in  terms  of  figments  is,  as  Prof.  Westermarck  shows,  a  method 
which  leads  nowhere  and  lures  us  from  the  true  scientific  path. 

Some  of  the  other  chapters  of  Prof.  Westermarck's  book  give  us  an- 
other approach  to  the  psychology  of  sex  and  to  the  theory  of  human 
marriage.  Sex  is  a  most  powerful  instinct — one  of  the  modern  schools  of 
psychology  tries  to  derive  from  it  almost  all  mental  process  and  socio- 
logical crystallisation.  However  this  may  be,  there  is  no  doubt  that  mascu- 
line jealousy  (chap,  ix),  sexual  modesty  (chap,  xii),  female  coyness 
(chap,  xiv),  the  mechanism  of  sexual  attraction  (chap,  xv  and  xvi)  and 
of  courtship  (chap,  xiii) — all  these  forces  and  conditions  made  it  necessary 
that  even  in  the  most  primitive  human  aggregates  there  should  exist 
powerful  means  of  regulating,  suppressing  and  directing  this  instinct. 
There  is  no  doubt  that  all  the  psychological  forces  of  human  sexual  pas- 
sion, as  well  as  the  conditions  of  primitive  life,  must  have  tended  to  pro- 
duce a  primeval  habit  of  individual  pairing.  We  have  to  imagine  a  man 
and  a  woman  forming  more  or  less  permanent  unions  which  lasted  until 
well  after  the  birth  of  the  offspring.  This,  Prof.  "Westermarck  develops  in 
the  first  chapter  of  his  work.  A  union  between  man  and  wife,  based  on 
personal  affection  springing  out  of  sexual  attachment,  based  on  eco- 
nomic conditions,  on  mutual  services,  but  above  all  on  a  common  relation 
to  the  children,  such  a  union  is  the  origin  of  the  human  family.  This  pri- 
meval habit,  according  to  the  "tendency  of  habits  to  become  rules  of 
conduct,"  develops  with  time  into  the  institution  of  family  and  marriage, 
and  "marriage  is  rooted  in  the  family,  rather  than  the  family  in  marriage." 

Marriage,  indeed,  right  through  the  book,  is  conceived  in  the  correct 
sociological  manner,  that  is,  as  an  institution  based  on  complex  social 
conditions.  The  greatest  mistake  of  the  writers  of  the  opposing  school — 
a  mistake  which,  I  think,  they  have  not  corrected  even  in  the  most  recent 



publications — is  their  identification  of  marriage  with  sexual  appropria- 
tion. Nor  is  this  pitfall  easy  to  avoid.  For  us,  in  our  own  society,  the 
exclusiveness  of  sexual  rights  is  the  very  essence  of  marriage.  Hence  we 
think  of  marriage  in  terms  of  individual  sexual  appropriation,  and  project 
this  concept  into  native  societies.  When  we  find,  therefore,  groups  of  peo- 
ple living  in  sexual  communism,  as  undoubtedly  happens  among  a  few 
tribes  within  a  limited  compass,  we  have  a  tendency  at  once  to  jump  to 
conclusions  about  "group  marriage." 

To  the  majority  of  savages,  however,  sexual  appropriation  is  by  no 
means  the  main  aspect  of  marriage.  To  take  one  example,  there  are  the 
Trobriand  Islanders,  studied  by  the  present  writer,  who  live  in  the  greatest 
sexual  laxity,  are  matrilineal,  and  possess  an  institution  which  is  probably 
the  nearest  approach  to  "group  marriage"  that  exists  or  could  ever  have 
existed.  Indeed,  it  resembles  it  much  more,  I  think,  than  does  the  cele- 
brated pirrauru  of  the  Dieri  in  Central  Australia.  These  natives  satisfy 
their  sexual  inclinations  through  all  forms  of  licence,  regulated  and  ir- 
regular, and  then  settle  down  to  marry,  decidedly  not  only  or  even 
mainly  to  possess  a  partner  in  sex,  but  chiefly  out  of  personal  attachment, 
in  order  to  set  up  a  household  with  its  economic  advantages,  and  last,  not 
least,  to  rear  children.  The  institution  of  individual  marriage  and  family 
among  them  is  based  on  several  other  foundations  besides  sex,  though  sex 
— naturally — enters  into  it. 

Space  does  not  allow  me  to  follow  Prof.  Westermarck  into  his  dialectic 
contests  with  the  most  eminent  of  his  contemporaries — with  Sir  James 
Frazer  and  Dr.  Rivers  about  the  kinship  terms  (chap,  vi)  ;  with  Sir  James 
Frazer  and  Mr.  Hartland  on  matriliny  (chap,  viii) ;  and  with  all  of  them, 
as  well  as  Spencer  and  Gillen,  on  group  marriage  (chap,  xxvi) .  In  all  these 
arguments  we  find  the  same  extensive  use  of  ethnological  material,  the 
same  breadth  of  view  and  moderation  of  doctrine,  above  all,  the  same 
sound  method  of  explaining  the  detail  by  its  whole,  the  superstructure 
by  its  foundation.  In  the  treatment  of  kinship  and  matriliny,  too  little 
concession  is  perhaps  made  to  the  important  theories  of  Sir  James  Frazer 
and  Mr.  Hartland,  whose  views,  unquestionably  correct,  that  ignorance 
of  paternity  is  universal  and  primitive  among  savages,  Prof.  Westermarck 
cannot  accept.  Nor  can  he  see  perhaps  sufficiently  clearly  the  enormous 
influence  of  this  savage  ignorance  on  primitive  ideas  of  kinship.  As  Sir 
I    James  Frazer  says: 

"Fatherhood  to  a  Central  Australian  savage  is  a  very  different  thing 
from  fatherhood  to  a  civilized  European.  To  the  European  father  it  means 
that  he  has  begotten  a  child  on  a  woman;  to  the  Central  Australian  father 
it  means  that  the  child  is  the  offspring  of  a  woman  with  whom  he  has  a 
I  right  to  cohabit.  .  .  .  To  the  European  mind  the  tie  between  a  father  and 
his  child  is  physical;  to  the  Central  Australian  it  is  social."  ^  The  distinc- 

^Totemism  and  Exogamy,  1910,  Vol.  I,  p.  236. 



tion  between  a  physiological  and  a  social  conception  of  kinship  is  indeed 
essential.  But,  on  the  whole,  Prof.  Westermarck's  views  do  not  diverge 
so  much  from  those  of  Frazer,  who,  on  the  other  hand,  occupies  a 
moderate  position  among  the  supporters  of  the  opposite  theories. 

Prof.  Westermarck's  explanation  of  exogamy,  and  of  the  prohibition 
of  incest — which  I  think  will  come  to  be  considered  as  a  model  of  socio- 
logical construction,  and  which  remarkably  enough  seems  to  find  favour 
with  no  one — can  only  be  mentioned  here.  The  excellent  chapters  on  mar- 
riage rites  (chaps,  xxiv-xxvi) ;  the  analysis  of  what  could  be  called  the 
numeric  varieties  of  marriage,  monogamy  and  polygamy  (chaps,  xxvii- 
xxviii) ;  polyandry  (xxix-xxx) ;  duration  of  marriage  (xxxii-xxxiii) , 
stand  somewhat  apart  from  the  main  argument  of  the  book.  Each  division 
is  a  monograph,  a  Corpus  Inscriptionum  MatrimonialtMm,  a  treatise  in 

The  book  is  and  will  remain  an  inexhaustible  fount  of  information,  a 
lasting  contribution  towards  the  clearing  up  of  some  of  the  most  obscure 
aspects  of  human  evolution,  and  it  marks  an  epoch  in  the  development 
of  sociological  method  and  reasoning. 



Primitive  marriage  and  kinship 

Students  of  primitive  mankind  still  indulge  too  frequently  in  bitter  and 
futile  controversy;  their  reputation  on  this  score  is  deservedly  bad,  and 
anthropology,  I  fear,  could  well  be  described  as  the  study  of  rude  man  by 
rude  people.  Among  the  various  hotly  discussed  subjects,  perhaps  the 
most  contentious  is  primitive  sexual  hfe  and  mating — the  much  disputed 
"marriage  of  the  missing  link." 

The  appearance  of  two  remarkable  books  on  this  subject,  each  standing 
for  one  side  of  the  vast  controversy,  is  a  notable  event,  and  affords  a 
good  opportunity  for  a  statement  of  the  problem  as  it  now  stands.  One 
of  the  books,  Crawley's  Mystic  Rose,  well  brought  up-to-date  by  Mr. 
Besterman,  is  exactly  twenty-five  years  old,  yet  it  is  not  only  entirely 
fresh,  but  also  in  many  respects  it  is  bound  to  lead  modern  research  for 
yet  another  quarter  of  a  century.  The  other  book,  Mr.  Briffault's  The 
Mothers — in  size  and  erudition  an  imposing  achievement — leads  us  back 
to  the  early  seventies,  to  the  speculations  of  Bachofen,  Morgan,  and 

This  article  was  a  review  of  The  Mothers:  A  Study  of  the  Origins  of  Senti- 
ments and  Institutions  by  Robert  Briffault,  and  The  Mystic  Rose:  A  Study  of 
Primitive  Marriage  and  of  Primitive  Thought  in  its  Bearing  on  Marriage  by 
Ernest  Crawley;  it  appeared  in  Nature,  January  28,  1928  {Vol.  121,  No.  3039), 
pp.  126—30,  and  is  reprinted  by  permission. 



McLennan.  It  is,  in  fact,  an  attempt  to  revive  their  now  antiquated 
point  of  view  that  mother-right  combined  with  sexual  communism  was 
the  original  form  of  organisation.  Between  them  these  two  books  repre- 
sent a  long  span  of  anthropological  history;  the  new  contribution  its  past 
and  the  old  one  its  future;  while  both  mirror  the  present  deadlock. 

The  anthropology  of  to-day  can  be  divided  into  two  camps  on  the 
issue  of  primitive  marriage  and  kinship:  those  who  believe  in  original 
monogamy  and  those  who  uphold  the  hypothesis  of  promiscuity.  Was 
primitive  man  sexually  promiscuous,  or  was  he  monogamous?  Was  he  a 
thoroughgoing  communist  in  wives  and  chattels,  or  a  possessive  individu- 
alist? Was  he  complaisant  or  jealous?  Was  it  patriarchy  or  mother-right 
which  shaped  early  institutions?  Range  Andrew  Lang,  Westermarck, 
Crawley,  Lowie,  and  Kroeber  on  one  side,  and  Frazer,  Hartland,  Rivers, 
Miiller-Lyer  on  the  other,  and  the  latter  will  vote  for  communism,  group- 
marriage,  mother-right,  and  complaisance  in  the  "missing  link"  or  primi- 
tive man,  and  the  former  for  his  monogamy,  jealousy,  and  private  pos- 

(1)  In  my  opinion,  the  problem  has  been  distorted  by  this  black-and- 
white,  yea-or-nay  treatment,  and  I  regard  it  as  the  main  defect  in  Mr. 
Briffault's  book  that  he  fights  on  the  side  of  communism,  as  well  as  of 
mother-right,  without  compromise  or  reservation.  The  main  thesis  of  the 
book  is  that  mother-right  was  the  source  of  social  organisation,  that  male 
influence  was  entirely  irrelevant  in  the  dawn  of  culture,  and  that  kin- 
ship, political  organisation,  the  beginnings  of  law,  economic  life,  magic, 
and  religion  were  created  and  completely  dominated  by  woman.  To  estab- 
lish this,  Mr.  Briffault  maintains  that  the  maternal  instinct  is  the  sole 
origin  of  all  tender  emotions,  hence  also  of  all  human  organisation.  Sexual 
love,  on  the  other  hand,  leads  to  cruelty  rather  than  to  affection,  and  has 
been  socially  and  culturally  barren.  "The  mothers  are  the  basis  and  the 
bond  of  the  primitive  social  group.  .  .  .  The  male  takes  no  share  in  the 
rearing  of  the  young.  .  .  .  Fatherhood  does  not  exist." 

It  is  difficult,  perhaps,  to  reconcile  this  conception  of  the  mother  as  a 
source  of  all  affection  and  all  social  cohesion  with  the  use  which  Mr. 
Briffault  makes  of  her  when  he  tries  to  explain  the  origins  of  exogamy  by 
brutal  expulsion  of  the  males.  In  this  context  he  describes  her  as:  "a  fierce 
enough  wild  animal  .  .  .  uncontrolled  and  violent  ...  an  object  of  hor- 
ror ...  to  the  young  male,  terror-stricken  by  the  anger  of  a  despotic 
mother."  The  book  is  full  of  such  provoking  and  fantastic  exaggerations. 

Mr.  Briffault  leaves  no  place  whatever  for  the  male  in  early  culture. 
Such  extremely  important  institutions  as  age  grades,  secret  societies,  initia- 
tion ceremonies  and  male  political  organisations  are  completely  ignored 
in  this  work.  Again,  the  role  of  the  mother's  brother  in  mother-right  is 
scarcely  accounted  for;  yet  a  male  who  intrudes  into  the  very  heart  of 
maternal  institutions  is  a  formidable  difficulty  for  the  champion  of  an 



exclusively  female  culture.  Avunculate,  one  of  the  most  important 
features  of  matrilineal  societies,  is  scarcely  touched  upon  by  the  author — 
the  word  is  not  in  the  index. 

The  author  then  proceeds  to^  prove  that  group  marriage  and  sex  com- 
munism exist,  and  in  the  course  of  this  discussion  commits  himself  to 
such  extraordinary  statements  as  that  "among  animals  the  maternal  and 
derivative,  parental,  filial,  and  fraternal  instincts  operate  in  accordance 
with  the  'classificatory,'  and  not  with  the  'descriptive'  system  of  relation- 
ship. It  would  appear  that  it  is  the  former  that  is  in  a  biological  sense 
'natural,'  and  the  latter  which  is  'artificial.'  "  The  classificatory  system  in 
fact  seems  so  "natural"  to  Mr.  Briffault  that  he  does  not  discuss  it  at  all, 
nor  does  he,  in  the  whole  three  volumes,  give  any  analysis  of  primitive 
kinship,  a  gap  really  astounding  in  a  work  dealing  with  mother-right — 
which  is  after  all  but  one  aspect  of  primitive  kinship. 

In  the  following  chapters  Mr.  Briffault  informs  us  that  "girls  and 
women  who  are  not  married  are  under  no  restrictions  as  to  their  sexual 
relations.  .  .  .  To  that  rule  there  does  not  exist  any  known  exception." 
Since  we  know  that,  according  to  Mr.  Briffault,  married  women  also  in- 
dulge in  "group-marriage"  and  other  forms  of  "licence,"  continence  and 
individual  sexual  relations  seem  to  have  been  completely  absent  from 
primitive  life.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  statement  quoted  is  a  most  mis- 
leading generalisation,  inaccurate  in  wording,  unsupported  by  evidence, 
and  based  upon  a  fundamental  misconception  of  human  marriage  and 
sexuality.  After  an  account,  given  from  his  point  of  view,  of  primitive 
sex  communism,  group-marriage,  sexual  selection,  and  the  various  man- 
ners of  concluding  marriage,  Mr.  Briffault  proceeds  to  attribute  to  woman 
the  discovery  of  totemism,  witchcraft  and  religion. 

It  would  be  easy  to  indict  The  Mothers  for  its  dogmatic  and  one-sided 
affirmations;  for  the  straining  of  evidence,  sometimes  to  the  breaking 
point;  for  unsatisfactory  definitions — or  absence  thereof — in  such  capital 
concepts  as  marriage,  communism,  kinship,  avunculate,  and  mother-right. 
Much  space  is  wasted  in  futile  controversy;  above  all  in  virulent  attacks 
upon  Prof.  Westermarck,  generally  by  first  distorting  his  views  and  then 
destroying  them.  On  the  other  hand,  the  contributions  of  Crawley  and 
Sidney  Hartland,  and  the  new  and  important  work  of  Schmidt  and  Kop- 
pers,  are  completely  ignored.  Briffault's  three  enormous  volumes  might 
almost  be  called  an  "encyclopaedia  of  matrimonial  errors."  The  work, 
however,  will  be  useful  to  a  student,  even  though  he  reject  most  of  its 
conclusions;  for  it  gives  a  clear,  well-written,  and  certainly  unreserved 
statement  of  one  side  of  the  main  problem  of  anthropology.  To  the 
amateur  it  will  prove  attractive  reading  as  an  introduction;  and  will  be 
the  more  useful  for  its  dramatic,  strong,  and  effective  narrative,  which 
rivets  the  attention  more  forcefully  and  leaves  a  sharper  imprint  upon 



the  memory  than  a  well-balanced,  hence  less  colourful,  account  might  do. 

As  a  contribution  to  science  the  work  has  one  or  two  real  merits.  It  is 
the  most  exhaustive  though  one-sided  account  of  the  influence  of  ma- 
ternity upon  the  cultural  role  of  woman.  In  the  discussion  of  that  subject 
the  author  clearly  sees  and,  to  the  best  of  his  ability,  discusses  the  relation 
of  innate  endowment  to  social  institutions  in  the  shaping  of  human  na- 
ture; and,  in  my  opinion,  anthropology  will  in  the  future  have  to  be 
more  concerned  with  the  place  of  culture  within  biological  development 
and  with  the  relation  of  instinct  to  institution,  than  with  questions  of 
**origin,"  "evolution,"  "history,"  or  "diffusion." 

(2)  The  biological  foundations  of  culture,  which  Mr.  Briffault  at- 
tempts to  consider  in  his  new  work,  have  already  been  fully  discussed  in 
The  Mystic  Rose,  where  the  psychology  of  human  relations  is  explained 
by  what  Crawley  has  termed  physiological  thought.  The  book  sets  out  to 
discuss  the  many  strange  customs  and  institutions  which  centre  round 
sexual  life — the  couvade,  sexual  taboos,  various  avoidances,  and  cere- 
monies of  marriage. 

Crawley  resolutely  rejects  all  explanations  in  terms  of  survival  from 
such  original  conditions  of  mankind  as  "sexual  communism,"  "mother- 
right,"  and  the  total  eclipse  of  the  male  sex.  He  regards  these  as  imaginary 
fantasies  constructed  against  all  evidence.  He  also  maintains  that  the  "in- 
discriminate and  careless  use  of  the  terms  survival  and  rudiments"  is  one 
of  the  main  sources  of  anthropological  error.  On  both  points  anthropology 
will,  in  my  opinion,  have  to  follow  his  lead  and  become  inspired  by  his 

The  explanation  of  savage  custom  and  institutions  must  be  given  in 
terms  of  primitive  thought.  When  Crawley,  in  his  brilliant  analysis  of 
savage  mentality,  declares  that  "primitive  thinking  does  not  distinguish 
between  the  natural  and  the  supernatural,  between  subjective  and  ob- 
jective reality,"  his  wording  is  not  quite  satisfactory;  yet  even  in  this 
slight  misrepresentation  of  what  he  terms  "primitive  logic,"  Crawley,  in 
forestalling  the  theories  of  Levy-Bruhl,  Danzel,  [Alfred]  Vierkandt,  and 
their  followers,  must  be  regarded  as  the  pioneer  of  modern  developments 
of  the  problem  of  primitive  psychology.  He  himself,  however,  has  es- 
chewed the  extravagances  of  some  of  his  successors.  He  does  not  commit 
the  fallacy  of  assuming  that  the  savage  has  a  mind  different  from  that  of 
civilised  man.  ".  .  .  Human  nature  remains  fundamentally  primitive. 
.  .  .  Primitive  ideas  .  .  .  spring  eternally  from  permanent  functional 
causes.  .  .  .  Ordinary  universal  human  ideas,  chiefly  connected  with 
functional  needs,  produce  the  same  results  in  all  ages;  and  many  so-called 
survivals,  which  have  on  the  face  of  them  too  much  vitality  to  be  mere 
fossil  remains,  at  once  receive  a  scientific  explanation  which  is  more  than 
antiquarian."  These  statements  strike  the  keynote  of  the  soundest  develop- 



ments  in  modern  anthropology.  In  laying  down  this  point  of  view,  and 
in  carrying  it  through  consistently,  Crawley  has  laid  the  foundations  for 
the  scientific  treatment  of  primitive  sexual  and  social  relations. 

The  main  form  which  "physiological  thought"  takes  in  the  primitive 
mind,  that  is,  in  the  human  mind  as  we  find  it  universally,  is  a  strong 
apprehension  of  danger  arising  from  contact  with  other  human  beings, 
especially  when  there  is  an  element  of  the  abnormal  or  unusual  in  the 
relation.  Strangers,  people  in  critical  condition — such  as  sickness,  death, 
or  functional  crisis — and,  above  all,  people  of  the  other  sex,  are  sur- 
rounded with  an  aura  of  supernatural  fear.  In  savage  culture  such 
dangers  are  met  by  two  devices:  the  taboo,  and  the  ritual  breaking  of  it. 

Taboo  is  considered  by  Crawley  as  an  inevitable  by-product  of  human 
psychology;  and,  in  a  masterly  survey  of  primitive  social  relations,  we 
are  shown  how  the  various  imperatives  and  prohibitions  arise  naturally 
out  of  savage  life  and  savage  outlook.  Crawley  constructs  no  hypotheses, 
invokes  no  deus  ex  machina — he  explains  quaint  features  and  unrelated 
details  in  terms  of  intelligible  and  fundamental  fact;  he  introduces  order, 
he  links  up  apparently  disconnected  phenomena  and  transforms  the 
strange  and  unknown  welter  of  "primitive  superstition"  into  a  familiar 
and  comprehensible  scheme  of  essentially  human  behaviour. 

The  taboo  between  men  and  women  in  its  various  aspects  is  treated 
against  the  background  of  mixed  attraction  and  fear,  of  distrust  under- 
mining love — an  attitude  which  is  shown  to  dominate  the  relations  be- 
tween the  two  sexes.  In  this  Crawley  has  anticipated  the  various  theories 
of  primitive  society  based  on  the  principle  of  sex  antagonism,  theories  set 
forth  by  [Walter]  Heape  and  several  other  writers  long  after  the  first 
edition  of  The  Mystic  Rose  was  published.  In  Crawley's  work  we  also  be- 
come acquainted  for  the  first  time  with  that  emotional  complexity  under- 
lying all  social  relations,  especially  as  between  men  and  women,  which  has 
been  systematically  worked  out  by  A.  F.  Shand  in  his  theory  of  sentiment 
(The  Foundations  of  Character).  Under  the  title  of  "ambivalence"  we 
have  had  similar  phenomena  dished  up  in  a  somewhat  distorted  shape  in 
psycho-analytic  literature.  Crawley,  in  fact,  can  be  described  as  the  sane 
and  sober  forerunner  of  psycho-analysis,  which,  when  The  Mystic  Rose 
was  written,  was  unknown  beyond  a  narrow  circle  of  Viennese  practi- 
tioners. It  must  also  be  remembered  that  psycho-analysis  did  not  turn  its 
attention  to  problems  of  primitive  culture  until  a  decade  after  the  present 
book  was  first  pubhshed.  The  Mystic  Rose,  in  the  due  emphasis  which  it 
places  on  sex,  in  its  clear  and  courageous,  but  never  fantastic  or  over- 
heated, interest  in  that  impulse,  can  be  placed  side  by  side  with  Havelock 
Ellis's  Psychology  of  Sex  as  a  pioneer  in  modern,  scientific  treatment  of 
human  love  and  mating. 

In  his  theory  of  ritual  and  sacrament  as  mechanisms  of  breaking  the 
taboo;  in  his  theory  of  union;  in  his  description  of  change  and  exchange; 



and  in  his  analysis  of  the  ritual  in  vital  crises,  Crawley  has  been  a  fore- 
runner of  several  now  developed  branches  of  anthropology.  To  him  can 
be  attributed  the  first  statement  of  the  theory  of  rites  de  passage,  after- 
wards so  successfully  developed  by  Schurtz,  [Arnold]  van  Gennep,  and 
Hutton  Webster.  He  was  the  first  to  regard  the  sacrilisation  of  crises  of 
life  as  the  main  function  of  religion — a  theory  to  which  he  returned  in 
his  later  work  {The  Tree  of  Life).  His  doctrines  of  change  and  exchange, 
of  reciprocity  and  the  principle  of  contact,  are  akin  to  the  views  of  the 
French  sociological  school,  especially  of  Durkheim,  [H.]  Hubert,  [M.] 
Mauss,  and  [Georges]  Davy. 

Finally,  in  the  last  part,  a  penetrating  and  original  analysis  is  given  of 
primitive  kinship  and  relationship:  that  pivot  problem  and  eternal  puzzle 
of  the  anthropologist.  In  my  opinion  it  ranks  side  by  side  with  the  first 
few  chapters  of  Westermarck's  History  of  Human  Marriage  as  the  best 
treatment  of  kinship  yet  given.  Had  such  writers  as  the  lace  Dr.  Rivers, 
Mr.  Briffault,  and  other  latter-day  Morganians  read,  digested,  and  as- 
similated the  last  three  chapters  of  The  Mystic  Rose,  we  would  have  had 
better  field-work  and  fewer  speculations  about  "anomalous  marriages,*' 
"group-motherhood,"  and  "savage  communism."  Even  on  this  last  point, 
Crawley,  though  not  especially  interested  in  economics,  had  a  sound  and 
a  realistic  view.  All  anthropological  evidence,  he  maintains,  tends  "to 
disprove  the  common  idea  that  early  society  had  a  communistic  and 
socialistic  character.  The  'rights'  of  the  individual  in  property,  marriage, 
and  everything  else  were  never  more  clearly  defined  than  by  primitive 
man."  Recently  we  have  been  told  by  a  great  authority  that  the  Mela- 
nesians  are  "communistic."  That  such  a  view  is  based  on  superficial  ob- 
servation, and  that  Crawley  is  right  here,  as  almost  everywhere  else,  I 
have  attempted  to  prove  (Crime  and  Custom  in  Savage  Society). 

The  foundations  of  Crawley's  work  are  so  sound,  so  firmly  established 
in  the  bedrock  of  human  nature  rightly  understood,  and  of  human  culture 
correctly  interpreted,  that  anthropologists  will  have  to  build  on  them  for 
generations  to  come.  To  show  this,  one  aspect  of  his  views  might  be 
further  developed  in  this  place.  Crawley  has  taken  the  primitive  concep- 
tion of  the  danger  in  sexual  selection  as  the  fundamental  and  irreducible 
datum.  He  speaks  of  "that  difference  of  sex  and  of  sexual  characters 
which  renders  mutual  sympathy  and  understanding  more  or  less  difficult"; 
and  he  adds:  "woman  is  one  of  the  last  things  to  be  understood  by  man." 
Again:  ".  .  .  woman  is  different  from  man,  and  this  difference  has  had 
the  same  religious  results  as  have  attended  other  things  which  man  does 
not  understand."  He  also  speaks  of  "the  instinctive  separation  of  the 
sexes  hardening  into  tradition  and  finally  made  the  subject  of  taboo." 

Now  I  think  that  here  it  is  possible  for  modern  anthropology  to  go  a 
step  further  and  to  interpret  the  psychological  attitude  of  primitive  man 
by  its  cultural  function.  I  maintain  that  sex  is  regarded  as  dangerous  by 



the  savage,  that  it  is  tabooed  and  rituaHsed,  surrounded  by  moral  and 
legal  norms — not  because  of  any  superstition  of  primitive  man,  or  emo- 
tional view  of  or  instinct  about  strangeness,  but  for  the  simple  reason 
that  sex  really  is  dangerous. 

The  sexual  impulse  has  to  be  experimental  if  it  is  to  be  selective;  and 
it  has  to  be  selective  if  it  is  to  lead  to  the  mating  of  best  with  best.  This 
is  the  eugenic  principle  which  I  believe  governs  human  marriage  as  well 
as  animal  mating.  Hence  sexual  jealousy  and  competition  is  to  be  found 
in  human  societies,  and  it  harbours  serious  disruptive  forces  for  any  social 
group  living  in  close  contact.  In  animal  societies,  rut  not  only  allows  the 
law  of  battle  and  sexual  selection  to  operate  in  especially  favourable 
circumstances,  but  it  also  circumscribes  the  duration  of  the  disruptive 
impulse  and  thus  eliminates  most  of  its  dangers.  In  man  rut  is  absent, 
and  sex  holds  him  in  permanent  readiness  and  tension.  Cultural  regula- 
tions, the  various  taboos  and  barriers  step  in  and  fetter  him,  where  natural 
endowment  has  left  him  freer  than  the  beast.  They  safeguard  the  family 
by  the  prohibition  of  incest,  the  clan  by  rules  of  exogamy,  and  the  bonds 
of  marriage  by  the  ban  on  adultery  and  what  might  be  called  the  principle 
of  legitimacy.  This  argument  cannot  be  fully  developed  or  substantiated 
by  evidence  in  this  place;  nor  is  it  necessary  for  me  to  do  so,  since  my 
views  are  developed  at  some  length  elsewhere  {Sex  and  Repression  in 
Savage  Society) . 

In  human  culture,  however,  no  physical  force  is  sufficient  without 
moral  support;  no  social  regulations,  however  strongly  backed  by  execu- 
tive power,  can  be  effective  without  mental  assent.  The  social  and  cul- 
tural rules  which  separate  primitive  man  and  woman  in  daily  existence,  at 
initiation,  during  the  crises  of  life,  in  economic  occupations,  and  within 
certain  social  groups,  cannot  stand  without  the  support  of  some  system  of 
thought  and  belief.  Here,  indeed,  we  find  all  those  ideas  which  express  the 
danger  of  sex — the  ideas  of  evil  and  sin — at  the  very  core  of  love  and 
passion;  the  conviction  that  highest  happiness  in  erotic  union  can  only 
be  obtained  at  the  cost  of  infinite  pains  and  precautions;  belief,  in  short, 
that  sex  is  religiously  sacred,  sacer,  that  is,  at  the  same  time  holy  and 
polluting.  The  universally  human  conception  of  sex  must  be  explained,  I 
think,  by  its  function  within  culture  rather  than  by  mere  reference  to 
primitive  psychology  and  the  early  conditions  of  life.  The  sexual  taboo, 
then,  and  the  ideas  upon  which  it  rests,  appear  to  us  indispensable  corol- 
laries of  culture  and  of  the  influence  of  this  on  the  increased  plasticity  of 
instinct  which,  since  in  man  it  has  become  more  free,  more  experimental, 
and  therefore  more  dangerous  than  in  the  animal,  needs  elaborate  regula- 
tion. The  barriers  imposed  upon  sex  by  culture — that  is,  the  taboos  and 
the  correlated  primitive  conception  of  sex  dangers — appear  to  us  as  an 
inevitable  by-product  of  the  change  wrought  in  human  endowment  by 
the  passage  from  the  state  of  Nature  to  that  of  culture. 



I  hasten  to  add  that  this  functional  view  is  implied  at  many  points  in 
Crawley's  argument,  though  it  is  nowhere  clearly  formulated  by  him. 
It  is  really  implicit  in  his  own  concept  of  the  primitive  Weltanscbammg, 
in  which  beliefs  and  ideas  do  not  exist  as  useless  "idle  survivals,"  not  as 
"speculations  of  rude  philosophers,"  or  even  as  "mistaken  associations  of 
ideas."  Crawley  treats  these  simple  and  often  quaint  "savage  superstitions" 
as  what  they  really  are:  life  forces,  indispensable  moral  values  which  shape 
the  destinies  of  mankind  with  a  determinism  as  binding  though  not  as 
rigid  as  that  which  obtains  in  the  physical  world.  Thus  Crawley  has  given 
us  in  The  Mystic  Rose,  what  is,  perhaps,  the  first  truly  scientific  work 
of  comparative  anthropology,  and  he  must  be  regarded  as  one  of  the 
founders  of  what  is  now  known  as  the  functional  method  of  modern 



Havelock  Ellis  has  been  a  personal  experience  to  most  thinking  men  and 
women  of  our  age — a  personal  experience  which  lasts.  His  scientific  work, 
his  artistic  vision  and  the  dramatic  role  which  he  was  made  to  play  as 
the  price  of  his  prophetic  influence — and  which  he  played  with  a  con- 
summate dignity  and  restraint — all  these  surround  him  with  that  mythical 
halo  which  but  rarely  comes  to  a  man  during  his  lifetime.  Those  of  us 
who  have  the  privilege  of  personal  acquaintance  and  friendship  know  well 
with  what  charm  and  nobility  he  acquits  himself  of  this  most  dangerous 
and  difficult  burden:  world-wide  fame  achieved  early  in  life. 

But  personal  acquaintance  is  merely  a  confirmation  of  the  many 
things  which  he  gives  in  his  published,  spoken  and  acted  manifestation; 
for  as  all  great  men,  Havelock  Ellis  lives  and  reveals  himself  in  his  words 
and  deeds.  All  true  and  real  things  in  life  are  simple  at  heart,  yet  with 
an  infinite  variety  of  iridescent  surface.  The  thoughts  and  sentiments  of 
Havelock  Ellis  are  direct  in  intent,  manifold  in  the  grasp  of  essential  facts, 
and  sincere  in  expression.  His  philosophic  attitude  is  non-partisan  and 
non-sectarian:  he  always  remains  the  synthetic  metaphysician  of  life. 

The  simplest  and  the  most  fundamental  truths  are  invariably  the  most 
diflScult  to  see  and  to  express.  Havelock  Ellis  tells  us  that  life  in  its  fullest 
sense  is  worth  Hving;  that  sex  should  be  understood,  indeed  studied  sci- 
entifically; that  on  the  basis  of  such  knowledge  it  must  be  morally  vindi- 
cated; that  a  great  many  of  the  strict  taboos  and  puritanic  values  of  the 
past  generation  will  have  to  change. 

Sex  is  a  great  and  wonderful  power  for  evil  and  for  good,  and  we  must 

This  article  appeared  in  Birth  Control  Review  {now  Planned  Parenthood 
News),  March  1931,  p.  77,  and  is  reprinted  by  permission. 



deal  with  it  as  we  deal  with  other  forces  of  nature:  understand,  respect 
and  control  it  in  the  Hght  of  truth  and  not  in  the  shadows  of  prejudice 
and  preconception. 

All  this  Havelock  Ellis  has  given  us.  He  has  not  proclaimed  it  as  his 
own  great  "discovery,"  but  has  shown  us  the  facts;  illuminated  them  with 
his  insight;  Ht  them  with  the  fire  of  his  inspiration  and  enthusiasm. 
Havelock  Ellis  has  never  made  sex  the  only  explanation  of  all  mental 
phenomena,  nor  has  he  advocated  free  indulgence  as  the  remedy  of  all 
spiritual  and  social  evils;  he  never  fell  into  the  error  of  facile  pansexualism; 
nor  is  his  scientific  work  a  system  of  one-sided  doctrines.  He  was  indeed 
the  first  scientifically  to  unveil  most  of  the  real  mysteries  of  the  sexual 
instinct.  His  analysis  of  the  two-fold  aspect  of  this  impulse,  tumescence 
and  its  release;  his  theory  of  modesty  as  a  biological  asset;  his  radical 
distinction  between  the  socially  relevant  and  the  essentially  personal  ele- 
ments in  sex — all  this  and  much  more  will  remain  as  a  classical  and  a 
lasting  contribution  to  science. 

His  pioneering  genius  consists  of  a  rare  combination:  common-sense 
and  prophetic  intuition.  It  has  made  Havelock  Ellis  anticipate  most  of 
the  discoveries  which  are  usually  ascribed  to  psychoanalysis,  and  for  which, 
indeed,  he  himself  gives  all  credit  to  Freud,  where  this  credit  is  really 
due.  The  whole  path  of  theoretical  development  which  we  can  follow  in 
the  seven  volumes  of  the  Psychology  of  Sex  is  strewn  with  innumerable 
findings  bearing  on  practically  all  sound  modern  doctrines  in  the  sciences 
of  the  human  mind,  human  society  and  the  human  body.  Like  life  itself, 
and  the  manifestations  of  the  wide  world,  Havelock  Ellis's  work  harbors 
inconsistencies,  and  it  will  provoke,  now  and  then,  contradictions  from 
even  his  most  enthusiastic  followers.  One  might  almost  say  that  to  learn 
from  him,  by  reading  his  books,  is  like  being  in  touch  with  experimental 
reality,  so  little  parfipris,  parochialism  and  egocentric  vanity  is  there  in 
his  work.  So  that  even  on  those  points  where  we  disagree  with  Havelock 
Ellis,  we  still  remain  indebted  to  him  for  stimulus  and  inspiration. 

There  is  one  aspect  of  Havelock  Ellis's  work,  however,  which  he  him- 
self has  tried  to  make  non-dogmatic  and  tentative,  but  which  will,  I 
think,  remain  of  permanent  value.  This  is  the  ethical  aspect,  and  here 
again  it  is  his  supreme  tolerance  and  placidity  of  mind,  combined  with 
his  warmth  of  heart  and  earnestness  of  purpose,  which  makes  him  go  right 
every  time.  The  dancing  "Philosopher  of  Life"  is  never  frivolous,  never 
cynical  and  never  bitter.  He  has — in  spite  of  some  false  appearances  and 
of  some  aphorisms  which  have  been  made  about  him — nothing  of  the 
satyr;  nothing  of  the  demon;  too  little,  perhaps,  of  Dionysos.  Some  of  us, 
made  of  a  baser  metal,  may  perhaps  miss  this  in  Havelock  Ellis,  the  phi- 
losopher; even  more  in  Havelock  Ellis,  the  artist;  but  no  serious  and 
honest  man  will  miss  it  in  Havelock  Ellis  the  friend  and  the  counsellor. 
Take  only  one  issue,  but  the  main  issue  of  sex  morality  and  of  all  the 



modern  problems  connected  with  it — I  mean,  of  course,  birth  control. 
Havelock  Ellis  from  the  outset  was  not  only  a  wise  advisor  and  a  con- 
sistent supporter  of  birth  control;  he  was  also  one  of  the  first  to  recog- 
nize the  immense  theoretical  importance  and  practical  position  of  birth 
control  in  all  the  vital  questions  of  social  ethics.  He  is  unquestionably  the 
most  important  representative  of  Neo-Malthusianism  in  England  and  in 
Europe,  and  serious  supporters  of  birth  control  in  America  have  chosen 
him  as  the  Old  World  Patron  Saint  of  the  movement.  In  his  great  work 
on  sex,  Havelock  Ellis  has  laid  the  foundation  of  a  new  ethical  attitude  as 
well  as  of  a  new  science,  and  he  has  given  not  only  an  encyclopaedia  of 
facts  and  a  system  of  ideas,  but  also  a  charter  of  a  new  freedom. 

To  me  in  my  earlier  youthful  enthusiasms  Havelock  Ellis  was  first  a 
myth,  fraught  with  artistic  and  moral  significance;  later  he  was  an  intel- 
lectual reality  in  shaping  the  plastic  phase  of  my  mental  development; 
finally  he  became  a  great  personal  experience  when  I  met  him  and  saw 
realized  in  life  the  anticipation  of  a  great  personality.  In  this,  I  am  glad 
to  say,  I  feel  but  one  of  the  legion  of  his  friends  and  admirers,  for  all  of  us 
like  to  share  that  which  we  regard  as  good  and  great.  Havelock  ElUs 
provokes  just  that  unselfish  admiration  and  devotion,  and  in  this,  perhaps, 
lies  his  greatest  achievement. 

illlllll  6  llllllllilllllilll 


Kinship  in  human  culture 

Birth,  suckling  and  the  tender  cares  bestowed  by  the  parents  on  their 
offspring  estabHsh  bonds  of  union  between  the  members  of  a  family, 
both  in  human  and  in  animal  societies.  The  devotion  of  the  suckling 
mother  is  not  an  exclusively  human  virtue;  the  watchful  and  protecting 
father  is  to  be  found  among  many  species  of  birds  and  mammals;  and 
the  pathetic  response  of  the  young  to  their  parents  moves  the  heart  of 
the  animal  lover  as  well  as  of  the  philanthropist.  With  many  animals, 
kinship,  the  protective  sentiment  of  the  parents,  and  the  child's  response 
to  it,  constitute  part  of  the  innate  endowment  indispensable  for  the  sur- 
vival of  the  species. 

With  man,  however,  we  find  physiological  kinship  deeply  modified  and 
grown  into  what  is  perhaps  the  most  important  social  institution  of  man- 
kind. Kinship  controls  family  life,  law,  social  organization  and  economics, 
and  it  deeply  influences  religion,  morality  and  art.  With  us  the  parental 
relation  figures  in  the  ten  commandments;  maternal  love  remains  the 
symbol  and  prototype  of  many  moral  virtues;  the  relations  within  the 
Trinity,  the  obligations  between  man  and  his  Maker,  and  those  of  Chris- 
tian to  Christian  are  conceived  in  terms  of  kinship — Son  to  Father;  child 
to  One  addressed  as  "our  Father  which  art  in  heaven";  brother  to  brother. 
In  other  societies,  the  cult  of  a  Mother  Goddess,  or  again  ancestor-wor- 
ship, or  kinship  with  animals  or  spirits  give  the  dominant  tone  to  religion, 
morality  and  art,  and  directly  influence  law,  social  organization  and 
economics.  Every  human  culture  is  built  upon  its  own  system  of  kinship, 
that  is,  upon  a  special  type  of  personal  bonds  primarily  derived  from  pro- 
creation and  family  life.  Without  a  deeper  understanding  of  kinship  it  is 

This  article  appeared  in  the  14th  Edition  of  the  Encyclopedia  Britannica, 
1929,  Vol.  XIII,  pp.  403-09;  reprinted  by  permission  of  Encyclopedia  Britannica, 



impossible  to  grasp  the  organization,  the  modes  of  thought  and  the  general 
character  of  human  civilization  from  its  humblest  origins  to  its  highest 

The  family  as  the  source  of  kinship 

At  first  sight  kinship,  the  bonds  of  union  between  parents  and  children 
and  between  more  remote  relatives,  appears  to  be  simple  enough:  the  typi- 
cal family,  a  group  consisting  of  mother,  father  and  their  progeny,  is 
found  in  all  communities,  savage,  barbarous  and  civilized;  everywhere  it 
plays  an  important  role  and  influences  the  whole  extent  of  social  organ- 
ization and  culture. 

Indeed  it  seems  hardly  to  differ  at  all  from  its  modern,  civilized  counter- 
part, as  we  know  it  from  our  own  experience.  Among  native  tribes  mother, 
father  and  children  share  the  camp,  the  dwelling,  the  food  and  the  life. 
The  intimacy  of  family  existence,  the  daily  round  of  meals,  the  domestic 
occupations  and  outdoor  work,  the  rest  at  night  and  the  awakening  to  a 
new  day,  run  in  both  civilized  and  savage  societies  on  strictly  parallel 
lines,  allowing  for  the  difference  in  levels  of  culture.  The  members  of  the 
household  are  as  a  rule  as  closely  bound  together  in  a  native  tribe  as  they 
are  in  a  European  society,  attached  to  each  other,  sharing  life  and  most  of 
its  interests,  exchanging  counsel  and  help,  company,  cheer  and  economic 
co-operation.  The  same  bonds  unite  them  as  unite  our  family,  the  same 
distances  and  barriers  separate  them  from  other  households.  In  Australia, 
as  well  as  among  most  North  American  Indians,  in  Oceania  and  in  Asia, 
among  the  African  tribes  and  in  South  America,  the  individual  undivided 
family  stands  out  conspicuous,  a  definite  social  unit  marked  off  from  the 
rest  of  society  by  a  clear  line  of  division. 

It  would  be  easy  to  illustrate  this  picture  by  a  host  of  actual  descrip- 
tions. In  no  ethnographic  area  is  the  family  absent  as  a  domestic  institu- 
tion. Putting  these  facts  together  with  our  childhood's  vision  of  the  first 
marriage — Adam  and  Eve  in  paradise — with  the  patriarchal  traditions  of 
the  Bible  and  of  classical  antiquity,  with  the  early  sociological  theories 
from  Aristotle  onwards,  we  might  conclude  with  Sir  Henry  Maine  that 
it  would  be  impossible  to  imagine  any  form  of  social  organization  at  the 
beginning  of  human  culture,  but  that  of  the  patriarchal  family.  And  we 
might  be  led  to  assume  that  our  own  type  of  family  is  to  be  found 
wherever  we  go,  and  that  kinship  is  built  on  the  same  pattern  in  every 
part  of  the  world. 

The  controversy  on  kinship 

The  layman  is  therefore  not  unjvistifiably  taken  aback,  when  on  open- 
ing a  modern  scientific  book  on  primitive  society,  he  finds  himself  con- 
fronted by  extreme  dissension  and  acrimonious  controversy  about  the  very 
subject  on  which  he  expected  a  simple  statement  of  obvious  fact.  Broadly 



speaking,  anthropologists  are  divided  on  the  questions:  does  the  essential 
unit  consist  of  the  family,  or  of  a  wider  group,  such  as  the  clan,  the 
horde,  the  "undivided  commune";  was  marriage  between  single  pairs 
present  from  the  outset  or  did  it  evolve  from  a  preceding  promiscuity  or 
group  marriage;  was  human  kinship  originally  individual  or  communistic? 
One  school  stands  by  individual  marriage  and  kinship,  and  the  importance 
of  the  family,  the  other  affirms  an  original  communism  in  sex,  economics 
and  kinship — and  the  two  schools  are  still  disputing  the  issue. 

This  great  anthropological  rift,  however,  is  not  due  merely  to  the 
perversity  and  pugnacity  of  specialists,  nor  to  any  inherent  vice  of  method 
or  insufficiency  of  material.  It  often  happens  in  science  that  the  seemingly 
simplest  and  most  fundamental  problems  are  really  the  most  difficult  and 
remain  longest  debated  and  unsettled.  As  the  physicists  cannot  make  up 
their  minds  on  matter,  force  or  energy,  as  the  chemists  change  their 
views  on  the  atom  and  the  elements,  as  the  mathematicians  are  least  certain 
about  space,  time  and  numbers,  so  the  social  anthropologists  may  be  for- 
given if  they  still  debate,  at  times  hotly,  kinship — that  conception  in 
which  centre  all  their  other  problems  and  ideas. 

Modes  of  counting  descent 

Kinship,  indeed,  apparently  simple  when  regarded  as  ties  of  union  aris- 
ing within  the  family  out  of  procreation  and  the  rearing  of  the  young, 
becomes  far  more  complex  when  we  study  it  in  its  further  ramifications 
in  tribal  life.  On  one  point  of  great  importance  a  correction  has  to  be 
made  in  the  traditional  view  that  had  undivided  sway,  before  Bachofen, 
McLennan  and  Morgan  revolutionized  social  anthropology  during  the  lat- 
ter half  of  the  19th  century.  Kinship  is  by  no  means  invariably  patriar- 
chal; it  is  not  always  based  on  the  recognition  of  the  father's  primary  im- 
portance in  establishing  descent;  nor  is  his  right  to  exercise  authority 
or  to  hand  over  his  position,  wealth  and  privileges  to  his  son  universal. 
In  many  societies  the  mother  is  the  parent  through  whom  kinship  is 
counted,  her  brother  is  the  male  head  of  the  family  and  inheritance  of 
goods,  succession  of  office  and  all  rights,  obligations  and  privileges  are 
passed  from  a  man  to  his  sister's  children. 

This  legal  system  is  called  mother-right  or  more  correctly  matriliny; 
and  the  relation  between  a  man  and  his  sister's  son,  avunculate.  The  cir- 
cumstance that  kinship  can  be  traced  through  both  father  and  mother 
has  been  termed  (by  Lowie)  "the  bilateral  principle  of  counting  descent"; 
while  the  almost  universal  fact  that  in  any  given  culture  emphasis  is 
laid  upon  one  side  only  has  been  defined  as  the  unilateral  mode  of  regard- 
ing kinship.  The  bilateral  aspect  of  kinship  is  never  completely  obliterated 
and  unilateral  counting  only  means  a  more  or  less  limited  emphasis  on  one 
side  and  never  a  complete  elimination  of  the  other. 



The  hypertrophy  of  primitive  bonds 

Another  feature  which  makes  kinship  in  many  a  native  culture  very 
different  from  our  own  is  its  extraordinary  hypertrophy:  it  transcends  the 
limits  of  the  family,  of  the  local  group,  at  times  even  of  the  widest 
circle  of  acquaintances. 

Perhaps  the  most  baffling  and  disquieting  symptom  of  these  collective 
aspects  of  kinship  is  the  queer  linguistic  usage  known  as  the  "classifica- 
tory"  system  of  kinship  nomenclature.  In  most  savage  tongues  a  man 
applies  such  terms  as  father,  mother,  brother,  sister  and  so  on,  not  only 
to  the  members  of  his  family  but,  according  to  rules  which  vary  with 
the  social  organization,  to  classes  of  people  who  stand  in  a  definite  rela- 
tion to  his  parents.  In  some  communities,  indeed,  for  example  in  Australia, 
kinship  terms  go  as  far  as  actual  social  relations  and  even  beyond — that 
is,  even  distant  strangers  never  met  or  seen  are  regarded  as  potentially 
belonging  to  one  class  of  kindred  or  another. 

Thus  language  and  linguistic  usage  seem  apparently  to  break  the  bonds 
of  family,  to  obliterate  parenthood  by  substituting  a  ''group  of  fathers" 
for  the  individual  one,  a  "group  of  mothers"  for  the  real  mother,  and 
so  on.  Nor  is  this  usage  a  mere  rule  of  politeness:  the  "classificatory" 
terms  are  applied  according  to  strict  rules,  to  a  number  of  people,  whose 
relationship  is  traceable  by  pedigree  or  by  membership  in  a  clan  or 
class.  Behind  the  linguistic  usage  there  is  always  a  set  of  mutual  obliga- 
tions between  an  individual  and  all  those  whom  he  calls  "fathers,"  "moth- 
ers," "brothers,"  etc.  The  "fathers"  or  "brothers"  act  as  a  group  on  cer- 
tain occasions  and  they  are  therefore  a  well-defined  social  class  and  not 
merely  a  name. 

Clan,  moieties  and  classes  of  relatives 

Thus  the  classificatory  use  of  kinship  terms  is  not  alone  in  grouping 
people  into  classes  of  kindred.  The  majority  of  native  tribes  are  actually 
divided  not  only  into  families,  but  into  bigger  groups,  which  yet  possess 
to  a  certain  extent  a  kinship  character.  Thus  in  certain  areas,  the  tribe 
falls  into  two  halves  or  moieties.  Each  of  these  has  its  name,  its  collective 
sense  of  unity,  usually  a  special  myth  defining  its  character  and  its  rela- 
tion to  the  other  moiety.  The  division  of  certain  Australian  tribes  into  the 
moieties  of  Eaglehawk  and  Crow  and  the  bi-partition  of  the  eastern  North 
American  Indians  are  classical  examples  of  this  division.  Usually  this  halv- 
ing of  the  tribe  is  associated  with  strict  prohibitions  of  marriage  within 
the  same  moiety,  so  that  a  man  of  the  first  must  marry  a  woman  of 
the  second  and  vice  versa.  In  other  tribes  there  are  four  clans  or  classes, 
in  others  again  eight,  these  sections  regulating  marriage  and  playing  a 
conspicuous  part  in  ceremonial  and  economic  life.  Among  the  majority  of 



peoples,  however,  there  is  an  odd  number  of  clans  which  cannot  be  brought 
under  the  dual  or  any  other  numeric  principle. 

What  makes  it  difficult  to  understand  these  modes  of  grouping  is  pre- 
cisely their  kinship  character.  The  members  of  a  clan  regard  themselves 
as  kindred,  trace  their  descent  from  a  common  ancestor,  conceive  of  their 
exogamous  prohibitions  as  of  a  variety  or  extension  of  incest,  and,  under 
certain  conditions  behave  to  each  other  like  kinsmen. 

Thus  there  exist  tribes  where  an  individual  really  seems  to  acknowledge 
many  ''fathers,"  many  "mothers,"  ''sisters,"  "wives,"  and  so  on.  And  yet 
in  every  such  case,  the  man  also  possesses  one  real  or  own  relative,  a  fa- 
ther, a  few  own  brothers  and  own  sisters  and  certainly  an  individual 

The  hypotheses  of  group  marriage  and  group  kinship 

As  to  the  fathers,  a  plausible  hypothesis  suggests  that  their  plurality 
might  be  perhaps  due  to  uncertainty  of  fatherhood  under  a  system  of 
primitive  group  marriage.  Was  not  marriage  originally  promiscuous,  com- 
munal, between  two  groups  rather  than  between  two  individuals?  Was  not 
therefore  kinship,  derived  from  such  group-marriage,  originally  group- 
kinship?  Is  not  the  classificatory  use  of  kinship  terms  partly  the  expres- 
sion of  such  group-family  relations  as  they  still  persist,  partly  the  sur- 
vival of  a  more  definitely  communistic  kinship  of  primeval  times?  And 
we  see  how  a  plausible  reasoning  has  led  many  an  anthropologist — from 
Morgan  to  Rivers,  from  McLennan  to  Frazer,  from  Bachofen  to  Sidney 
Hartland — to  the  theory  of  a  primitive  group-marriage  and  group- 
family,  and  to  the  assumption  that  primitive  kinship  was  a  class  kinship, 
between  groups  and  not  between  individuals.  On  the  other  hand  this  posi- 
tion has  been  vehemently  disputed  by  the  other  school,  who  cannot  recon- 
cile it  with  the  supreme  importance  of  the  family,  with  the  apparently 
primeval  nature  of  marriage  between  single  pairs  and  with  the  individu- 
ality of  Motherhood.  By  Darwin  as  well  as  by  Westermarck,  by  Andrew 
Lang  and  by  Crawley  almost  every  assumption  of  the  group-kinship 
school  has  been  disputed,  while  recently  Lowie  and  Malinowski  have  tried 
to  show  by  the  analysis  of  actual  facts  that  the  family  is  after  all  the 
foundation  of  all  social  order. 

Individual  and  collective  kinship 

The  problem  has  been  undoubtedly  vitiated  by  the  uncompromising 
championship  of  the  clan  versus  the  family,  primitive  monogamy  versus 
group-marriage,  individual  relations  versus  clanship.  The  question  is  not 
whether  kinship  is  individual  or  communal — it  evidently  is  both — but 
what  is  the  relation  between  its  two  aspects?  It  is  an  undeniable  fact  that 
the  family  is  universal  and  sociologically  more  important  than  the  clan 
which,  in  the  evolution  of  humanity,  it  preceded  and  outlasted.  But  the 



clan  is  in  certain  communities  extremely  vital  and  effective.  What  is  the 
relation  between  them?  Individual  legal  prerogatives  and  self-interest  are 
always  predominant,  but  corporate  feeling,  co-operation,  joint  ownership 
and  joint  responsibility  are  important  elements  in  primitive  justice  and 
legal  organisation.  All  these  bonds  and  relations,  individual  as  well  as  com- 
munal, are  founded  on  kinship  and  the  sense  of  kinship.  The  real  task 
of  the  enlightened  anthropologist  is  not  to  join  either  "school"  in  denying 
or  belittling  one  side  of  kinship  or  the  other,  but  to  establish  the  relation 
between  the  two  sides. 

The  variety  of  meanings  in  each  classifi calory  term 

The  traditional  approach  to  the  problem,  since  Morgan,  has  been  through 
language.  The  classificatory  character  of  the  terms  made  a  great  im- 
pression upon  anthropologists — but  they  failed  to  analyse  it  linguisti- 
cally! Now  in  all  human  languages  we  find  homonyms,  that  is,  words  with 
a  variety  of  meanings,  and  in  primitive  languages  such  words  abound  and 
do  not  cause  any  confusion.  Thus  in  technology  we  frequently  find  that 
the  same  word  is  used  to  designate  the  natural  objects  from  which  the 
material  is  taken,  the  material  in  its  raw  form,  the  various  stages  of  manu- 
facture, and  finally  the  finished  object.  In  Melanesia,  for  instance,  the 
same  term  waga  describes  a  tree  as  it  stands  in  the  forest,  its  felled  and 
lopped  trunk,  the  dug-out  in  its  various  stages,  and  the  finished  canoe. 
Similarly  such  words  as  "magical  power"  {mana,  wakan,  orenda,  etc.), 
"prohibition"  {tabu),  and  what  not,  cover  a  great  variety  of  meanings. 

The  first  thing  to  ask  then  about  kinship  terms  is,  whether  they  really 
"confuse,"  "merge"  or  "lump"  the  various  relatives  designated  by  the 
same  term,  or  whether  on  the  contrary  each  time  they  are  used,  they 
receive  a  distinct  meaning,  that  is,  refer  to  one  individual  only?  As  a  mat- 
ter of  fact,  in  actual  use  kinship  terms  have  always  a  distinct  and  con- 
crete meaning  and  there  never  is  any  doubt  in  the  mind  of  the  speaker 
or  hearers  as  to  who  is  designated  in  each  case.  The  emotional  tone  in 
the  first  place  usually  indicates  whether  a  word  such  as  Mother,  Father, 
Son,  Daughter,  Brother,  Sister,  is  used  towards  or  about  "own"  relatives, 
or  merely  "classificatory"  ones.  And  emotional  intonation  is  an  important 
part  of  phonetic  equipment. 

In  the  second  place,  there  is  always  an  additional  apparatus  of  adjectives, 
suffixes  and  other  circumlocutions  which  make  it  possible  to  specify 
whether  the  actual  mother  is  meant  or  her  sister,  or  yet  another  of  those 
whom  the  classificatory  term  "mother"  embraces.  Recently,  in  Spencer 
and  Gillen's  new  book  {The  Arunta,  1928)  we  are  given  a  very  rich 
auxiliary  terminology  of  this  kind,  which  proves  that  even  in  that  strong- 
hold of  classificatory  kinship.  Central  Australia,  there  exist  highly  de- 
veloped linguistic  means  for  differentiating  individuals  within  each  class. 

Finally  we  have  the  context  of  situation  and  narrative,  the  most  power- 



ful  index  of  semantic  discrimination  of  meaning  in  primitive  languages. 
Thus  in  reality  each  so-called  classificatory  term  is  a  class  label  for  a 
number  of  distinct  words,  every  one  of  which  has  its  own  specific  in- 
dividual meaning.  These  individual  words  are  in  actual  use  differentiated 
from  each  other  phonetically,  by  the  index  of  emotional  tone;  lexicograph- 
ically by  the  index  of  circumlocution;  contextually  by  the  index  of  situa- 
tion. The  individual  meanings  are  moreover  not  built  up  in  a  haphazard 
manner;  they  are  related  to  each  other;  they  start  with  a  main  or  primary 
reference;  which  then  through  successive  extensions  engenders  a  series 
of  derived  meanings. 

The  initial  situation  of  kinship 

What  is  throughout  humanity  the  initial  situation  of  kinship  in  which 
the  primary  meanings  of  the  terms  are  formed;  and  above  all  is  that  ini- 
tial situation  individual  or  collective?  Does  the  child  form  its  kinship 
meaning  on  one  set  of  parents,  one  Mother  and  one  Father,  or  is  it 
surrounded — at  the  time  when  its  first  sociological  categories  are  being 
shaped — by  a  group-family,  by  classes  of  Mothers  and  Fathers?  This  as 
we  know  is  the  point  at  issue,  and  apparently  the  answer  seems  to  frame 
itself  according  as  we  approach  facts  from  the  side  of  maternity  or  pater- 

A  deeper  sociological  analysis  shows  however  that  the  problems  of 
Maternity  and  that  of  Paternity  are  not  so  different. 

Biological  and  sociological  parentage 

Biological  factors,  though  important,  are  not,  however,  in  human  so- 
cieties the  omnipotent,  exclusively  determining  element,  which  they  ap- 
parently are  in  animal  ones.  Legal  rules,  social  institutions,  moral  and 
religious  doctrines  and  practices  deeply  modify  the  ideas,  sentiments  and 
the  behaviour  of  man.  Kinship  which  in  its  final  form  is  a  product  of  the 
institutions  and  doctrines  of  a  society  is  always  shaped  by  laws  and  norma- 
tive ideas.  Indeed  there  is  no  reason  why  the  transformation  should  not 
go  so  far  that  the  sentimental  and  legal  bond  between  a  child  and  its 
mother  should  not  become  collective  instead  of  individual.  Indeed  a  bril- 
liant anthropologist  (Rivers)  has  recently  propounded  the  hypothesis  of 
a  sociological  "group  motherhood"  as  a  correlate  to  "group  marriage"  and 
"group  fatherhood"  and  this  hypothesis  has  been  made  one  of  the  founda- 
tion stones  in  a  new  matriarchal  theory  of  primitive  culture  (Briffault). 

Thus  both  maternity  and  paternity  are  partly  based  on  biological  ar- 
rangements of  the  human  organism  and  innate  mental  tendencies,  and 
both  are  deeply  modified  by  social  institutions  and  norms.  In  both,  the 
facts  must  be  examined  carefully;  neither  a  mere  zoological  induction, 
nor  plausibly  brilliant  hypotheses  about  the  omnipotence  of  society  can 
yield  a  satisfactory  answer. 



Sex  and  the  uncertainty  of  fatherhood 

It  will  be  best  in  fact  to  discuss  maternity  and  paternity  together.  The 
two  sides  of  parenthood  are  linked  by  sexual  life.  The  laxity  of  savages 
has  been  given  a  great  and  undue  prominence  in  discussions  on  kinship. 
Wherever  sexual  relations  occur  between  two  groups,  as  in  the  Pirrauru 
custom  of  Central  Australia  and  sporadically  in  Siberia  and  Melanesia;  or 
even  merely  allowed  as  between  marriage  classes  and  clans,  some  anthro- 
pologists are  inclined  to  speak  of  "a  still  existing  group-marriage"  for- 
getting that  marriage  implies  far  more  than  the  right  of  sexual  inter- 
course. Again,  in  various  customs  of  religious  and  ceremonial  nature 
(temple  prostitution,  ]ms  primae  noctis,  ritual  defloration,  bridal  night 
relaxations,  sex  hospitality  and  exchange  of  partners)  survivals  of  a  primi- 
tive sex  communism  have  been  discerned.  This,  combined  with  the  testi- 
mony of  classificatory  terms,  has  led  to  the  hypothesis  of  primitive  promis- 
cuity and  group  family. 

In  reality,  however,  sexual  freedom  is  an  entirely  different  matter  from 
the  liberty  of  parenthood,  and  between  the  two  there  enter  some  inter- 
esting institutions  and  legal  rules. 

The  principle  of  legitimacy 

In  fact  the  tolerance  of  free  intercourse  wherever  this  exists  is  not  ex- 
tended to  the  liberty  of  conception.  The  rule  in  most  savage  tribes  which 
allow  pre-nuptial  relations  is  that  unmarried  boys  and  girls  may  enjoy 
themselves  as  much  as  they  like,  provided  that  there  be  no  issue.  At  times, 
as  among  the  Areoi,  the  untrammelled  artistic  fraternities  of  Polynesia, 
heavy  penalties  are  inflicted  on  the  unmarried  mother,  and  illegitimate 
children  are  killed  or  aborted.  At  times  the  putative  father  is  penalised 
unless  he  marries  the  girl,  or  again  important  economic  and  social  pressure 
make  it  advantageous  for  him  to  marry  her.  Almost  universally  the  child 
born  before  wedlock  has  a  different  status  from  the  legitimate  offspring, 
usually  very  much  to  his  disadvantage.  Very  interesting  are  the  cases 
where,  as  among  the  Todas,  one  of  the  physiologically  possible  fathers  of 
a  polyandrous  household  has  to  perform  a  special  rite  in  order  to  assume 
the  legal  position  of  fatherhood.  A  child  deprived  of  such  a  legal  father 
is  disgraced  for  hfe,  even  though  born  in  wedlock. 

And  this  brings  us  to  the  important  point.  Physiological  paternity,  the 
begetting  of  a  child,  is  not,  as  a  rule,  sufficient  and  may  even  be  irrelevant 
in  determining  social  fatherhood.  In  fact  native  peoples  have  naturally 
but  an  imperfect  idea  of  the  mechanism  of  procreation.  Some  (Central 
Austrahans,  certain  Melanesians,  a  few  African  tribes)  attribute  the 
child  to  the  agency  of  spiritual  beings;  others  again  (Ba-Ila,  Rossel  Is- 
landers, some  Australian  tribes)  over-emphasize  the  man's  share.  But  in 
all  cases,  where  the  subject  has  been  competently  investigated,  we  find 



that  the  mechanism  of  procreation  is  conceived  in  a  manner  in  which 
some  biological  knowledge  is  arbitrarily  mixed  up  with  animistic  beliefs. 
This  doctrine  stands  in  a  definite  relation  to  the  kinship  ideas  and  legal 
principles  of  a  community.  Invariably  also  the  bond  of  kinship,  believed 
to  be  established  by  the  act  of  procreation,  bodily  or  spiritual,  is  of  an 
individual  nature  and  fatherhood  has  at  times  to  be  reaffirmed  by  a  special 
legal  ceremony,  also  individual. 

Natural  and  sociological  maternity 

Maternity  is  obviously  as  much  involved  in  native  doctrines  of  concep- 
tion as  is  fatherhood.  Indeed,  the  ban  on  pre-nuptial  children  hits  the 
mother  harder  than  the  father,  and  it  penalises  always  an  individual,  not 
a  group.  An  individual  woman  suffers  the  disadvantages  of  an  illegitimate 
child,  unless  there  is  a  man  legally  united  to  her  who  individually  shares 
her  responsibility. 

Wherever  there  is  an  attempt  to  cause  or  prevent  conception  by  reli- 
gious and  magical  rites,  these  refer  always  to  an  individual  mother  and 
child.  The  mother  becomes  usually  subject  to  tabus  during  gestation  which 
she  keeps  individually  and  of  which  her  husband  often  takes  a  share.  The 
welfare  of  the  child  concerns  its  own  mother  and  father  even  before  it 
is  born.  At  birth  again  various  social,  magical  and  moral  rules  separate  the 
mother  from  her  husband  and  isolate  her  with  her  child.  The  few  female 
relatives  who  often  assist  her  are  her  nearest  individual  kinswomen.  There 
is  no  transformation  of  an  individual  birth  into  a  group  birth — by  legal 
fiction  or  ritual — but  on  the  contrary  there  is  a  social  imposition  of  in- 
dividual burdens,  responsibilities  and  sentiments  upon  the  real  mother. 
The  father,  though  very  much  in  the  shadow,  participates  through  cus- 
toms of  the  cotivade  type,  vigils  and  tabus  in  his  wife's  confinement,  and 
this  he  also  does  individually. 

No  group  parenthood 

The  ideas  and  institutions  which  control  conception,  pregnancy  and 
birth,  show  that  these  cannot  be  regarded  by  the  anthropologist  as  mere 
physiological  facts,  but  as  facts  deeply  modified  by  culture  and  social 
organization.  Conception  is  not  left  to  the  chance  of  free  intercourse, 
even  where  this  is  allowed,  but  its  necessary  condition  is  marriage.  Parent- 
hood, to  be  normal,  must  be  made  legitimate,  that  is,  based  on  a  socially 
approved,  but  individual  marriage  contract.  Society  decrees  that  the  ini- 
tial setting  of  kinship  be  the  individual  family  based  on  individual  mar- 
riage. And  this  social  decree  backs  up  the  natural  tenderness  and  affection 
which  seem  to  be  innate  in  the  human,  as  well  as  in  the  animal,  parent. 
The  child  again  responds  with  a  unique,  life-long  attachment  to  the 
one  woman  and  one  man  who  constitute  its  first  social  horizon — that  is 
to  its  mother  and  father. 



The  extensions  of  kmsbip 

The  relation  of  parents  and  children  is  individual,  and  so  is  that  be- 
tween brothers  and  sisters,  who  are  to  each  other  the  natural  playmates 
and  helpmates  of  childhood,  and  remain  the  legal  partners  and  moral  al- 
lies in  later  life. 

The  household  is  thus  the  workshop  where  kinship  ties  are  forged,  and 
the  constitution  of  the  individual  family  supplies  the  pattern  upon  which 
they  are  built.  We  return  thus  to  the  simple  view  so  long  prevalent  in 
tradition  and  pre-scientific  thought,  but  now  we  have  established  it  by 
a  survey  and  analysis  of  facts,  made  it  precise — and  at  the  same  time 
qualified  it  considerably.  For  the  individual  household  provides  only  the 
initial  situation  of  kinship;  and  the  individual  parents,  brothers  and  sis- 
ters supply  only  the  primary  meaning  of  kinship  terms.  This  fact  is  of 
the  greatest  importance,  but  to  appreciate  it  fully  it  is  necessary  to  fol- 
low the  further  development  of  kinship  bonds. 

As  the  child  grows  beyond  the  earliest  stages  of  infancy,  it  is  brought 
into  contact  with  other  households — those  of  the  grandparents  and  those 
-  of  the  brothers  and  sisters  of  either  parent.  Perhaps  the  most  important 
among  these  persons  is  the  mother's  sister. 

The  substitute  mother 

The  mother  is  the  physiologically  and  morally  indispensable  parent  in  all 
societies.  Yet  there  is  always  the  danger  of  her  failing,  temporarily  or 
permanently.  The  substitution  of  one  person  for  another — in  case  of  death, 
illness  or  incapacity — is  one  of  the  fundamental  elements  of  primitive 
organization,  and  this  substitution  always  takes  place  on  the  basis  of 
kinship.  In  a  matrilineal  society,  the  natural  substitute  for  a  mother  is 
her  sister,  usually  the  one  nearest  in  age.  In  matrilocal  communities,  she 
is  on  the  spot,  in  patrilocal  ones  she  has  to  be  summoned  if  it  is  neces- 
sary; even  when  not  needed  she  will  come  on  long  visits.  Thus  the  child, 
as  a  rule,  becomes  familiar  early  in  life  with  its  mother's  sister.  She  again 
— having  perhaps  performed  important  duties  during  pregnancy  and  at 
childbirth — is  especially  devoted  to  her  potential  ward.  She  often  assists 
the  mother,  in  case  of  illness  replaces  her,  occasionally  may  take  the  child 
to  her  own  home  for  a  time.  She  and  the  mother  both  know  that,  under 
circumstances,  she  may  have  to  act  as  a  mother  to  the  child.  Later  on  in 
life  the  child  comes  also  to  realize  this  and  to  regard  her  as  substitute  or 
secondary  mother. 

The  substitute  mother  is,  in  certain  respects,  equivalent  to  the  real 
one:  the  child  sees  her  in  the  intimacy  of  the  household,  side  by  side  with 
the  real  mother,  receives  the  same  services  from  her,  realizes  that  at  times 
she  replaces  the  real  parent,  acting  thus  as  a  secondary  or  substitute 
mother.  The  child  equally  well  realizes,  however,  that  this  is  a  very  dif- 



ferent  "Mother"  from  the  real  one.  A  new  relationship  is  thus  built  up 
for  which  the  first  one  is  certainly  the  pattern,  but  the  process  is  never 
a  simple  repetition. 

Linguistically,  the  extension  of  the  same  term  Mother  to  the  mother's 
sister  is  obviously  no  more  a  complete  assimilation  than  is  its  sociological 
equivalent.  The  child  forms  a  new  meaning  for  the  old  word — in  fact, 
it  acquires  a  new  word  with  the  same  form,  but  a  different  referent  and 
usually  a  different  phonetic  character  in  its  emotional  tone.  When  he  calls 
his  mother's  sister  "Mother,"  he  neither  fuses  the  two  ideas  nor  confuses 
the  two  people.  He  merely  emphasizes  the  similarity  while  he  ignores  the 
differences.  This  one-sided  emphasis  corresponds  to  the  fact  that  similarity 
is  here  the  basis  of  legal  obligation.  The  mother's  sister  is  beholden  to 
the  child  in  virtue  of  her  equivalence  to  the  mother.  It  is  this  which  has 
to  be  expressed  and  the  child  is  taught  to  call  her  "Mother"  since  in  do- 
ing so  it  puts  her  under  an  obligation.  The  difference  is  obvious,  irrelevant 
— in  a  way  to  be  obliterated  or  glossed  over.  The  verbal  magic,  which  is 
the  first  form  by  which  legal  obligations  are  established,  has  to  create  a 
fictitious  identity  between  Mother's  Sister  and  Mother. 

What  has  been  said  about  the  mother's  sister  applies  also  to  the  father's 
brother  who,  under  father-right,  is  often  regarded  as  a  substitute  father. 
His  wife  would  then  act  as  a  substitute  mother,  especially  in  case  of  adop- 
tion. Under  mother-right  again,  the  mother's  sister's  husband  would  be  the 
substitute  father. 

The  special  relations  of  mother-right  and  father-right 

Among  the  people  closely  related  to  the  parents  there  are,  however,  some 
to  whom  no  extension  of  an  already  existing  kinship  attitude  is  possible. 
The  grandparents  obviously  belong  here,  and  also  the  father's  sister  and 
the  mother's  brother.  Under  mother-right  and  exogamy,  the  father's  sis- 
ter is  never  of  the  mother's  kin  and  cannot  be  assimilated  to  the  mother 
while,  though  of  the  father's  kin,  she  is  not  of  his  sex  and,  therefore,  can- 
not be  assimilated  to  him.  Under  unilateral  father-right,  she  again  is  the 
chief  kinswoman  of  the  child.  The  mother's  brother  occupies  the  same 
singular  position  both  under  mother-right  and  father-right.  New  attitudes 
have  to  be  built  towards  these  relatives  and,  as  a  rule,  we  find  also  special 
terms  for  them. 

The  children  of  the  mother's  sister  and  of  the  father's  brother,  or 
"parallel  cousins"  as  they  are  called  in  Anthropology,  are  usually  regarded 
by  a  savage  child  as  his  "secondary"  brothers  and  sisters  and  addressed 
by  these  terms.  To  them  the  primary  family  attitude  is  also  partially  ex- 
tended, as  it  is  to  their  parents. 

The  children  of  the  mother's  brother  and  father's  sister — the  "cross- 
cousins"  as  they  are  technically  called — usually  require  the  creation  of 
a  new  type  of  bond.  The  terminologies  of  the  cross-cousins  often  present 



strange  verbal  assimilations.  Thus,  in  matrilineal  societies,  the  paternal 
cross-cousin  is  often  called  ''Father";  and  under  father-right  mother's 
brother's  daughter  is  labelled  ''Mother."  If  we  consider,  however,  that 
under  mother-right,  the  paternal  cross-cousin  (father's  sister's  son)  is 
not  Ego's  real  kinsman — that  he  is  related  to  Ego  only  as  the  father's 
nearest  kinsman — then  the  verbal  identification  is  less  strange.  The  ap- 
pellation then  really  means:  "that  man  who  is  to  me  only  in  so  far  related 
as  he  is  my  father's  nearest  in  blood."  And  a  similar  psychological  attitude 
underlies  the  strange  use  of  Mother  to  a  cross-cousin  and  other  anomalous 
terms  of  this  type. 

The  elimination  of  sex  from  workaday  life 

The  unilateral  principle  which  declares  that  kinship  is  counted  through 
mother  or  father  only  means,  in  fact,  looked  at  concretely  as  it  enters 
the  life  of  an  individual,  that  the  family  bonds  are  extended  on  one  side 
only.  An  important  aspect  of  this  one-sided  extension  is  the  development 
of  rules  of  exogamy  out  of  rules  of  incest.  These  rules  eliminate  sex  out 
of  the  household  and  the  clan  respectively.  Incomprehensible  in  their 
biological  function,  since  biologists  agree  that  occasional  inbreeding  is  in- 
nocuous, they  can  be  accounted  for  by  the  incompatibility  of  sexual  in- 
terest with  practical  co-operation  in  everyday  life.  The  emotional  tension 
which  accompanies  erotic  play,  the  jealousies  and  dissensions  which  it 
arouses  as  well  as  its  obsessive  and  distractive  influence,  make  it  difficult 
to  mingle  sex  with  serious  pursuits.  Hence  war  and  hunting,  agriculture 
and  trading  enterprises,  religious  and  public  ceremonial,  are  often  hedged 
round  with  sexual  tabus. 

Domestic  life  and  all  those  relations  which  start  in  the  family,  that  is 
parent  and  child,  brother  and  sister,  are  permanently  protected  from  the 
upsetting  influence  of  sex  by  the  tabu  of  incest.  Later  on,  when  the  sav- 
age child,  sexually  ripe  at  an  early  age,  enters  the  wider  group  of  his 
village  community  and  tribe,  an  important  division  is  established  in  all 
his  associations  by  the  unilateral  principle.  Some  people,  male  and  female, 
become  his  natural  associates  in  work,  legal  interests  and  spiritual  concerns. 
These  are  his  wider  kindred,  his  clansmen  and  clanswomen,  to  whom  he 
extends  the  modified  and  diluted  family  attitude,  comprising  among  others, 
the  rules  of  incest  which  here  become  the  much  wider  and  weaker  tabus 
of  exogamy.  The  other  group  consists  of  women  with  whom  he  may  amuse 
himself  and  pursue  his  amorous  inclinations,  and  of  men  with  whom  he 
enters  into  relations  of  more  or  less  friendly  rivalry  or  reciprocity. 

The  unilateral  principle  is  thus  instrumental  in  securing  for  the  clan 
the  same  condition  of  sexually  undisturbed  co-operation  as  is  secured  for 
the  family  by  the  prohibition  of  incest. 

Unilateral  descent  is  also  intimately  bound  up  with  the  nature  of  filia- 
tion, that  is,  with  the  handing  over  of  status,  power,  office  and  possessions, 



from  one  generation  to  the  other.  Order  and  simplicity  in  the  rules  of  filia- 
tion are  of  the  greatest  importance  for  social  cohesion.  Indeed,  we  find 
that  most  political  quarrels  and  tribal  dissensions  are  due,  apart  from  sex, 
to  questions  of  inheritance  and  succession — from  lowest  savagery  right  up 
to  modern  civiHzation.  Rivalries  during  lifetime,  fights  and  rifts  after 
the  death  of  a  man,  especially  if  he  be  powerful,  are  of  universal  occur- 
rence. For,  as  we  know,  mother-right  and  father-right  are  never  absolute 
and  the  rules  are  always  elastic  and  sometimes  ambiguous.  The  generaliza- 
tion may,  therefore,  be  laid  down  that  the  simpler  and  stricter  the  laws 
of  filiation,  the  more  stringently  enforced  either  mother-right  or  father- 
right  at  the  expense  of  the  other,  the  greater  will  be  the  order  and  co- 
hesion in  a  community,  the  smoother  will  be  the  transmission  of  author- 
ity, tradition  and  wealth  from  one  generation  to  the  other. 

The  further  extensions  of  kinship 

So  far  mainly  the  principles  of  extension  have  been  analysed — its  driv- 
ing forces,  so  to  speak:  such  as  the  need  of  substitute  parents;  the  value 
of  eliminating  sex  from  household  and  clan;  the  importance  of  estab- 
lishing order  in  filiation.  The  process  itself  consists,  as  in  the  case  of 
mother  substitution,  in  a  series  of  successive  extensions,  each  of  which 
brings  about  a  partial  loosening  and  modification  of  the  old  ties,  and  the 
formation  of  new  ones  upon  the  old  model. 

In  the  earlier  stages,  the  infant  is  mainly  passive — as  when  it  forms  the 
first  bonds  by  accepting  the  parental  cares;  as  when  it  is  weaned  from  the 
mother;  taught  to  name  its  parent;  to  accept  a  substitute  mother  and 
father  and  to  extend  to  them  the  parental  appellations.  Later  on  when  the 
baby  assumes  the  status  of  a  child,  often  by  donning  the  first  dress,  when 
he  begins  to  follow  the  parents  and  takes  some  part  in  their  pursuits, 
his  interest  in  new  associations  and  in  the  formation  of  new  bonds  be- 
comes more  active  too. 

Then  there  comes,  in  some  tribes  at  least,  again  a  stage  of  abrupt,  pas- 
sively received  training.  The  rites  of  tribal  initiation,  as  a  rule,  entail  a 
dramatic  break  with  the  old  life  and  the  creation  of  new  bonds.  The 
novice  is  made  to  forget  his  associations  with  the  family,  especially  with 
its  female  members,  above  all  with  the  mother.  In  the  course  of  the  moral 
and  mythological  training  which  he  receives,  he  is  taught  in  a  systematic 
way  what  kinship  means,  he  is  instructed  in  the  principles  of  unilateral 
descent,  the  rules  of  exogamy,  the  duties  and  responsibilities  towards  his 
kindred  and  relatives.  In  other  tribes,  where  there  are  no  initiation  rites, 
the  same  moral  and  legal  education  is  given  gradually,  spread  over  a  longer 
period — but  it  always  has  to  be  received,  and  it  is  always  given  with 
reference  to  kinship. 

The  boy  and  girl  now  enter  the  active  life  of  the  tribe.  Often  the  in- 



dividual  has  to  change  his  residence,  the  girl  on  marrying  into  another 
village,  the  boy  on  assuming  his  full  unilateral  kinship  status.  In  matriar- 
chal and  patrilocal  communities,  for  instance,  he  leaves  his  father's  place 
and  joins  his  mother's  brother.  With  this  a  new  recrystallization  of  kinship 
bonds  takes  place — always,  however,  on  the  same  principle:  with  the  old 
pattern  carried  over,  but  adjusted  to  the  individual's  new  status  and  to 
his  new  conditions  of  life. 

Marriage  opens  a  new  phase  and  constitutes  another  transition.  Here 
a  new  set  of  relatives  is  acquired,  besides  the  individual  mate,  and  the 
terminology  is  enriched  by  another  set  of  expressions,  as  a  rule  some  taken 
over  from  the  old  vocabulary  of  kinship,  and  some  new  ones  added.  In- 
cidentally a  new  household  is  founded,  with  which  the  whole  kinship 
story  starts  afresh. 

Later  on,  with  old  age,  with  the  marriage  of  children  and  the  arrival 
of  grandchildren,  the  kinship  horizon  changes  once  more,  as  a  rule  by 
the  growth  and  multiplication  of  the  younger  generation,  lineal  and  col- 
lateral, and  by  their  gradual  taking  of  duties,  responsibilities  and  privileges 
out  of  Ego's  hands. 

The  nature  of  the  extensions 

Thus  each  successive  transformation  of  kinship  bonds  is,  as  a  rule,  as- 
sociated with  a  biological  stage  in  human  life;  each  corresponds  to  a  dif- 
ferent type  of  social  setting;  each  is  conditioned  by  different  functions 
performed  by  the  group.  Kinship  invariably  begins  in  the  family — mother, 
father  and  child,  the  latter  depending  for  nourishment,  comfort  and 
safety  upon  its  parents.  From  the  individual  household  and  the  mainly 
biological  functions  of  the  family,  the  child  passes  into  the  social  horizon 
of  a  few  associated  households,  which  by  the  first  extension  of  kinship, 
furnish  him  with  his  "substitute"  parents,  brothers  and  sisters,  and  by 
the  formation  of  new  relationships,  supply  his  grandparents,  his  maternal 
uncle,  paternal  aunt  and  his  cross-cousins.  At,  and  after,  puberty,  he 
learns,  in  a  more  explicit  and  systematic  manner,  the  principles  of  his 
tribal  kinship  and  law.  This  is  done  through  initiation  or  training  within 
the  horizon  of  the  local  community.  Entering  afterwards  the  stage  of 
active  life,  as  a  member  of  his  clan  he  takes  part  in  most  tribal  concerns — 
economic,  ceremonial,  legal,  warlike  or  religious.  Soon,  also,  he  makes  a 
choice  of  his  matrimonial  mate,  according  to  the  kinship  rules  regulating 
marriage  in  his  tribe. 

One  side  of  the  whole  process  consists  in  the  gradual  assimilation  of 
the  new  ties  to  the  old  ones;  the  other  side,  in  the  creation  of  new  in- 
terests, adoption  of  new  functions  and  formation  of  new  ties.  Even  when 
the  old  ties  are  purposely  destroyed,  as  in  initiation,  the  new  ones  are 
built  on  their  pattern.  Throughout  the  process  each  extension  leads  to 



the  formation  of  new  ties  and  thus  to  the  weakening  of  the  old  ones, 
but  never  to  their  complete  obliteration,  nor  to  the  confusion  of  the 
two  sets.  The  new  relationships  receive  some  elements  of  the  old  ones, 
which  become  incorporated  in  them,  but  invariably  they  contain  new 
elements  also. 

At  the  end,  the  individual  finds  himself  not  with  one  confused  or 
amalgamated  mass  of  kindred,  but  rather,  surrounded  by  a  number  of 
gradually  widening  circles:  the  family,  the  collateral  relatives,  the  local 
kinsmen  and  relatives,  the  clansmen,  and  the  relatives  within  the  tribe; 
and,  cutting  athwart  this  concentric  system,  his  own  new  household  and 
his  relatives-in-law. 

The  persistence  of  family  ties 

Why  does  the  family  pattern  persist  throughout  these  extensions,  not 
only  in  terminology,  but  in  legal  fiction,  in  totemic  tradition  and  in  the 
character  of  the  various  rules?  It  must  never  be  forgotten,  of  course,  that 
kinship  at  the  tribal  end  is  by  no  means  identical  with  kinship  at  the 
family  end.  As  the  ties  widen,  their  original  family  character  becomes 
more  and  more  attenuated  and  diluted  by  other  ingredients.  Tribal  kinship 
bears  only  a  remote,  at  times  mainly  figurative,  resemblance  to  the  family 
ties,  but  that  it  is  built  under  their  influence  and  as  an  extension  of  them 
is  beyond  doubt. 

The  main  force  which  brings  about  this  extension  is  the  extreme 
strength  of  family  ties.  The  power  of  the  earliest  family  experiences  to  in- 
fluence all  subsequent  social  relations  is  a  universal  fact  which  was  not  suf- 
ficiently appreciated  until  recently.  In  spite  of  their  exaggerated  claims 
and  fantastic  distortions,  psychoanalytic  writers  have  helped  to  show  how 
all-pervading  the  family  sentiments  are  in  society,  and  how  the  reminis- 
cences of  paternal  authority  and  of  maternal  tenderness  enter  into  most 
relations  of  later  life. 

In  the  small  communities  of  savages,  where  all  social  relations  are  direct 
and  personal,  where  all  co-operation  is  by  actual  contact,  where  solidarity 
and  substitution  operate  within  groups  of  people  constantly  in  touch  with 
each  other,  the  family  pattern  can  be  adapted  to  all  wider  formations 
much  more  concretely  and  liberally.  In  all  the  extensions  the  new  bonds 
and  obligations  are  formed  on  account  of  the  old  ones;  therefore,  to  an 
extent,  in  their  image.  The  unilateral  principle  deflecting  the  spread  of 
the  family  pattern  to  one  side  only,  makes  its  sway  within  the  clan  only 
the  more  concentrated,  while  it  frees  from  its  constraint  a  whole  sphere 
of  relations — those  between  clans. 

The  final  product  of  the  process  of  kinship  extensions:  the  clan  sys- 
tem, with  its  twofold  relationships  within  the  kinship  group  and  across 
the  groups,  is  thus  the  natural  product  of  the  influences  which  drive 
family  kinship  into  wider  spheres  of  action  and  of  the  unilateral  principle. 



The  clan  and  the  family 

Nothing  is  as  important  and  diflScult  in  the  study  of  primitive  sociology 
as  the  correct  understanding  of  the  nature  of  the  clan  and  its  relation  to 
the  family.  The  primary  and  fundamental  elements  of  parent  to  child 
kinship — the  bonds  of  procreation,  the  physiological  services,  the  innate 
emotional  response — which  make  up  the  family  bonds,  vanish  completely 
from  the  relationship  within  the  clan.  Totemic  identity,  the  mythological 
fiction  of  common  totemic  descent,  magical,  religious  and  legal  func- 
tions, are  new  elements  which  have  entered  into  it,  and  which  constitute 
the  greatly  modified  kinship  of  the  clan. 

But  though  the  clan  is  essentially  non-reproductive,  non-sexual  and 
non-parental,  though  it  never  is  the  primary  basis  and  source  of  kinship, 
its  connection  with  the  family  is  real  and  genetic.  The  clan  grows  out 
of  family  kinship  round  one  of  the  parents  by  the  affirmation  of  the  ex- 
clusive procreative  relevance  of  this  one  parent,  by  the  injunction  of  legal 
solidarity  with  one  side  of  kindred,  accompanied  often  by  legal  fiction 
and  linguistic  metaphor. 

The  clan  differs  from  the  family,  however,  not  only  in  the  nature  of 
its  bonds  but  also  in  structure.  It  is  the  result  of  the  widest  possible  ex- 
tension of  kinship  ties,  but  on  one  side  only.  While  the  family  contains 
essentially  the  two  principles,  male  and  female,  present  in  procreation,  in 
the  physiological  division  of  functions  and  in  sociological  protection,  the 
clan  is  based  upon  the  elimination  of  either  the  paternal  or  the  maternal 
element  from  relevant  kinship.  It  is  rather  the  clan  of  the  relevant  parent, 
plus  the  clan  of  the  irrelevant  parent,  plus  the  other  clans  related  to  Ego 
by  marriage  or  other  forms  of  affinity,  which  together  embrace  the  classi- 
ficatory  body  of  relatives.  In  fact  the  classificatory  nomenclature  always 
refers  to  the  tribe  or  the  community  or  a  wider  portion  of  it,  and  never 
to  one  clan  only.  It  is  the  tribe,  therefore,  as  a  correlated  system  of  clans, 
or  such  portion  of  it  as  is  embraced  by  the  classificatory  nomenclature, 
which  corresponds  to  the  widest  circle  of  kinship  extensions. 

It  is  an  easy  but  dangerous  mistake  to  maintain  that  "the  classificatory 
system  and  our  own  are  the  outcome  of  the  social  institutions  of  the  clan 
and  the  family  respectively,"  and  to  say  that  as  "among  ourselves  this 
(the  essential)  social  unit  is  the  family"  so  "amongst  most  peoples  of 
rude  culture  the  clan  or  other  exogamous  group  is  the  essential  unit  of 
social  organization."  ^  This  view  carries  on  Morgan's  mistaken  opinion  that 
the  clan  is  a  domestic  institution,  made  ad  hoc  for  purposes  of  group- 
marriage,  a  mistake  which  has  recently  been  reaffirmed  in  the  phrase  that 
"the  clan,  like  the  family,  is  a  reproductive  group."  ^  All  this  is  a  con- 
tinuous source  of  error  in  that  it  construes  the  clan  into  an  independent, 

^W.  H.  R.  Rivers,  Kinship  and  Social  Organization,  1914,  pp.  74,  75. 
^Robert  Briffault,  The  Mothers.  1927. 



self-sufficient  kinship  unit,  whereas  the  clan  is  essentially  a  group  cor- 
related to  other  groups  of  a  similar  nature,  and  dependent  upon  their  ex- 
istence. In  its  simplest  form  the  correlated  system  is  reduced  to  two  clans, 
but  never  to  one.  It  is  this  compound  system  which  corresponds  to  the 
family,  which  itself  is  a  self-sufficient  independent  kinship  unit.  The  clan 
in  fact  never  bears  the  imprint  of  extended  full  family  kinship,  but  only 
of  one  side  of  it. 

It  is  a  curious  mistake  to  take  savage  fiction  and  linguistic  simile  at  their 
face  value,  and  to  regard,  with  Morgan,  the  clan  as  a  ''domestic  institu- 
tion," made  ad  hoc  for  purposes  of  group-marriage;  or  with  Rivers,  to 
imagine  that  the  clan  has  been  the  foundation  of  classificatory  nomencla- 
ture in  the  same  sense  as  the  family  is  the  basis  of  our  own  terminology; 
or  to  affirm  that  "the  clan,  like  the  family,  is  a  reproductive  group." 

The  function  of  the  clan  system  is  neither  generative  nor  domestic; 
exogamy  is  not  primarily  an  injunction  to  marry  a  woman  of  another 
clan,  but  the  prohibition  of  sexual  intercourse  within  the  clan.  Again 
the  relations  between  the  older  and  younger  generation  within  the  clan, 
or  between  age-grades,  are  neither  an  equivalent  nor  a  copy  of  the  parent 
to  child  relations — above  all,  not  as  regards  reproductive  functions! 

The  relation  of  the  members  of  a  clan  is  a  modified  and  extended  kinship 
solidarity;  it  implies  co-operation  in  most  communal  undertakings  and 
the  exclusion  of  sexual  interests.  Thus  some  elements  of  the  later  parent 
to  child  and  brother  to  sister  relationship  are  carried  over  into  clanship, 
but  two  elements  never  enter  it:  the  matrimonial  relation  and  early  parent 
to  child  relation.  The  first  of  these  is  extended,  in  a  modified  form,  into  the 
relationship  between  different  clans,  members  of  which  may  pursue  amuse- 
ments and  sexual  interests  in  common,  as  between  males  and  females;  and 
between  individuals  of  the  same  sex,  render  each  other  reciprocal  services 
from  group  to  group,  and  join  in  enterprises  on  a  tribal  scale. 

We  can  now  define  kinship,  in  the  first  place,  as  the  personal  bonds 
based  upon  procreation,  socially  interpreted;  and,  in  the  second  place,  as 
the  wider  bonds  derived  from  the  primary  ones  by  the  process  of  gradual 
extensions  which  occur  in  all  communities  during  the  life-history  of  the 
individual.  On  the  level  of  savagery  and  lower  barbarism,  the  powerful  per- 
sistence of  family  bonds  is  given  freer  play,  hence  the  extensions  are  more 
numerous  and  more  definitely  systematized;  they  are  backed  up  by  legal 
fictions  of  totemic  descent;  by  ideas  of  one-sided  procreation  or  mystic 
identity;  and  they  lead  to  the  formation  of  wider  groups  such  as  the 
clan,  moiety  or  exogamous  division. 

Kinship  is  thus  a  class  of  social  relations,  which  must  be  subdivided 
into  several  varieties:  primary  kinship  always  founded  on  marriage  and 
family;  and  the  derived  forms,  correlated  with  the  group  of  cognate 
households,  the  village-community  and  the  clan.  The  terms  of  kinship, 



which  are  but  linguistic  expressions  of  all  these  relationships,  have  ob- 
viously also  a  manifold  meaning,  which  corresponds  to  the  social  reality. 
Thus  is  explained  the  existence,  side  by  side  of  individual  and  classificatory 
terms,  of  the  family  and  the  clan,  of  the  individual  and  communal  aspects 
of  kinship.  The  enigmatic  and  apparently  anomalous  character  of  primi- 
tive kinship  vanishes  with  a  closer  scrutiny  of  the  facts. 

To  explain  kinship  there  is  no  need  of  an  appeal  to  a  fanciful  history 
of  mankind,  beginning  with  Promiscuity  or  Hetairism,  passing  through 
Group-Marriage,  Marital  Gerontocracy  and  Anomalous  Marriages,  and 
only  ending,  after  many  errors  and  efforts,  in  monogamous  marriage. 
Where  empirical  facts  yield  a  sufficient  explanation  hypotheses  are  super- 
fluous— they  are  a  disease  of  method.  Especially  erroneous  in  these  specula- 
tions is  the  neglect  of  domesticity  and  the  influences  of  everyday  life  in 
early  childhood,  combined,  as  this  neglect  often  is,  with  an  over-emphasis 
on  sex.  Sex,  far  from  being  the  principal  clue  to  kinship,  plays  only  a  sub- 
ordinate part  in  its  formation,  separated  as  it  is  from  parenthood  by  the 
rule  of  legitimacy.  It  is  the  elimination  of  sex  and  not  indulgence  in  it 
which,  through  the  rules  of  incest  and  exogamy,  really  influences  kinship 
and  clanship. 

The  study  of  kinship,  far  from  demonstrating  the  small  importance 
of  the  family,  proves  the  tenacity  of  its  bonds  and  their  persistence  through 
life  as  a  standard  for  all  wider  social  relations.  The  age-long  experience 
of  mankind,  which  Anthropology  alone  can  unravel,  teaches  us  that  the 
institutions  of  marriage  and  family  have  never  been  absent  in  human 
history,  that  they  form  the  indispensable  foundation  for  the  structure  of 
human  society,  and  that,  however  they  might  become  modified  in  the 
future,  they  will  never  be  destroyed  nor  their  influence  seriously  impaired. 


classical  Works 

Bachofen,  J.  J.,  Das  Mutferrecht,  1861. 
Maine,  H.  S.,  Ancient  Law,  1861. 

Morgan,  L.  H.,  Systems  of  Consanguinity  and  Affinity  of  the  Human  Family, 

McLennan,  J.  F.,  Studies  in  Ancient  History,  1886. 
Crawley,  A.  E.,  The  Mystic  Rose,  1902;  new  ed.  1927. 

Lang,  A.,  "The  Origin  of  Terms  of  Human  Relationship,"  Proc.  Brit.  Acad.,  1907 
(Vol.  3). 

Frazer,  J.  G.,  Totemism  and  Exogamy,  1910. 

"Westermarck,  E.  A.,  The  History  of  Human  Marriage,  5  th  ed.  1921. 
Recent  Theoretical  Studies 

Kroeber,  A.  L.,  "Classificatory  Systems  of  Relationship,"  Jour.  Roy.  Anthr.  Inst., 
1909  (Vol.  39). 



Rivers,  W.  H.  R.,  Kinship  and  Social  Organisation,  1914;  Social  Organisation, 

Lowie,  R.  H.,  Culture  and  Ethnology,  1917;  Primitive  Society,  1920. 
Gifford,  E.  W.,  Calif ornian  Kinship  Terminologies,  1922. 
Malinowski,  B.,  Sex  and  Repression  in  Savage  Society,  1927. 
Briflfault,  R.,  The  Mothers,  1927. 

Seligman,  B.  Z.,  "Marital  Gerontocracy  in  Africa,"  Jour.  Roy.  Anthr.  Inst.,  1924 
(Vol.  54). 

Descriptive  Accounts 

Radcliflfe-Brown,  A.  R.,  "Three  Tribes  of  Western  Australia,"  Jour.  Roy.  Anthr. 

Inst.,  1913  (Vol.  43);  The  Andaman  Islanders,  1925. 
Armstrong,  "W.  E.,  Rossel  Island,  1928. 

Malinowski,  B.,  The  Family  among  the  Australian  Aborigines,  1913;  Crime  and 
Custom  in  Savage  Society,  1926;  The  Sexual  Life  of  Savages  in  North- 
Western  Melanesia,  1928. 

Rivers,  W.  H.  R.,  The  Todas,  1906;  The  History  of  Melanesian  Society,  1914. 

Thurnwald,  R.,  Die  Gemeinde  der  Bdnaro,  1921. 

Junod,  H.  A.,  The  Life  of  a  South  African  Tribe,  1927. 

Smith,  E.  W.,  and  Dale,  A.  M.,  The  Ila-Speaking  Peoples  of  Northern  Rhodesia, 

Rattray,  R.  S.,  Ashanti,  1925. 

Spier,  L.,  "The  Distribution  of  Kinship  Systems  in  North  America,"  Univ.  of 

Washington  Pub.  in  Anthropology,  1925  (Vol.  1). 
Kroeber,  A.  L.,  "California  Kinship  Systems,"  Univ.  of  Calif.  Pub.  in  Anthrop., 

1917  (Vol.  12). 
Czaplicka,  M.  A.,  Aboriginal  Siberia,  1914. 

Seligman,  B.  Z.,  "Studies  in  Semitic  Kinship,"  Bull.  School  of  Oriental  Studies, 
London,  1923  (Vol.  3). 



Much  ink  has  flowed  on  the  problem  of  blood — "blood"  symbolizing  in 
most  human  languages,  and  that  not  only  European,  the  ties  of  kinship, 
that  is  the  ties  derived  from  procreation.  "Blood"  almost  became  dis- 
coloured out  of  all  recognition  in  the  process.  Yet  blood  will  rebel  against 
any  tampering,  and  flow  its  own  way  and  keep  its  own  colour.  By 
which  florid  metaphor  I  simply  mean  that  the  extravagantly  conjectural 
and  bitterly  controversial  theorizing  which  we  have  had  on  primitive 
kinship  has  completely  obscured  the  subject,  and  all  but  blinded  the  ob- 
servers of  actual  primitive  life.  Professor  Radcliffe-Brown  is  all  too  correct 
when  he  says  "that  theories  of  the  form  of  conjectural  history,  whether 

This  article  appeared  in  Man:  A  Monthly  Record  of  Anthropological  Science, 
published  under  the  direction  of  the  Royal  Anthropological  Institute  of  Great 
Britain  and  Ireland,  February  1930  (Vol.  30,  No.  2),  pp.  19-29;  reprinted 
by  permission  of  the  Honorary  Editor  of  Man. 



'evolutionary'  or  'diffusionist*  exert  a  very  pernicious  influence  on  the 
work  of  the  field  ethnologist,"  and  he  gives  a  very  significant  example 
of  the  fact-blindness  to  which  this  leads. ^ 

And  these  conjectural  theories  on  kinship  have  simply  flooded  anthro- 
pological literature  from  the  times  of  Bachofen,  Morgan  and  McLennan, 
to  the  recent  revival  in  kinship  enthusiasm,  headed  by  Rivers  and  his 
school,  A.  R.  Radcliffe-Brown,  the  late  A.  Bernard  Deacon,  T.  T.  Barnard, 
Mrs.  Reinhold  Hoernle,  Mrs.  B.  Z.  Seligman,  not  to  mention  myself,  or 
the  Californian  kinship-trinity,  Kroeber,  Lowie  and  Gifford — one  and  all 
influenced  by  the  work  of  Rivers.  With  all  this,  the  problem  has  remained 
enshrined  in  an  esoteric  atmosphere.  The  handful  of  us,  the  enrages  or 
initiates  of  kinship,  are  prepared  to  wade  through  the  sort  of  kinship 
algebra  and  geometry  which  has  gradually  developed;  memorize  long  lists 
of  native  words,  follow  up  complicated  diagrams  and  formulae,  sweat 
through  dry  documents,  endure  long  deductive  arguments,  as  well  as  the 
piling  of  hypothesis  upon  hypothesis. 

The  average  anthropologist,  however,  somewhat  mystified  and  perhaps 
a  little  hostile,  has  remained  outside  the  narrow  ring  of  devotees.  He  has 
his  doubts  whether  the  effort  needed  to  master  the  bastard  algebra  of  kin- 
ship is  really  worth  while.  He  feels,  that,  after  all,  kinship  is  a  matter 
of  flesh  and  blood,  the  result  of  sexual  passion  and  maternal  affection,  of 
long  intimate  daily  life,  and  of  a  host  of  personal  intimate  interests.  Can 
all  this  really  be  reduced  to  formulae,  symbols,  perhaps  equations?  Is  it 
sound,  hopefully  to  anticipate  "that  the  time  will  come  when  we  shall 
employ  symbols  for  the  different  relationships  .  .  .  and  many  parts  of  the 
description  of  the  social  systems  of  savage  tribes  will  resemble  a  work 
on  mathematics  in  which  the  results  will  be  expressed  by  symbols,  in 
some  cases  even  in  the  form  of  equations"?  ^ 

A  very  pertinent  question  might  be  asked  as  to  whether  we  should 
really  get  nearer  the  family  life,  the  affections  and  tender  cares,  or  again 
the  dark  and  mysterious  forces  which  the  psycho-analyst  banishes  into  the 
Unconscious  but  which  often  break  out  with  dramatic  violence — whether 
we  could  come  nearer  to  this,  the  real  core  of  kinship,  by  the  mere  use 
of  mock-algebra.  There  is  no  doubt  that  whatever  value  the  diagrams 
and  equations  might  have  must  always  be  derived  from  the  sociological 
and  psychological  study  of  the  intimate  facts  of  kinship,  on  which  the 
algebra  should  be  based.  The  average  common-sense  anthropologist  or  ob- 
server of  savages  feels  that  this  personal  approach  to  kinship  is  sadly  lack- 
ing. There  is  a  vast  gulf  between  the  pseudo-mathematical  treatment  of 
the  too-learned  anthropologist  and  the  real  facts  of  savage  life.  Nor  is  this 
merely  the  feeling  of  the  non-specialist.  I  must  frankly  confess  that  there 
is  not  a  single  account  of  kinship  in  which  I  do  not  find  myself  puzzled 
^See  Man.  1929,  No.  35. 

^W.  H.  R.  Rivers,  The  History  of  Melanesian  Society,  1914,  2  vols.  Vol.  I,  p.  10. 



by  some  of  this  spuriously  scientific  and  stilted  mathematization  of  kin- 
ship facts  and  disappointed  by  the  absence  of  those  intimate  data  of  family 
life,  full-blooded  descriptions  of  tribal  and  ceremonial  activities,  thorough 
enumerations  of  the  economic  and  legal  characteristics  of  family,  kindred 
and  clan,  which  alone  make  kinship  a  real  fact  to  the  reader.^ 

And  when,  after  all  the  floods  of  ink  on  kinship,  the  average  anthro- 
pologist finds  that  an  authority  like  Professor  Westermarck  maintains 
that  most  work  on  classificatory  terminologies  "has  been  a  source  of  error 
rather  than  knowledge";  when  he  finds  that  A.  R.  Radcliffe-Brown,  B. 
Malinowski  and  Brenda  Z.  Seligman  cannot  agree  as  to  what  they  mean 
when  they  use  the  terms  kinship,  descent,  unilateral  and  bilateral;  when 
he  discovers  that  no  sooner  has  Mrs.  Seligman  restated  the  fundamental 
concept  of  classificatory  terminologies  than  she  is  challenged  in  letters  to 
Man;  then  he  really  feels  justified  in  mistrusting  all  this  terribly  elaborate 
pseudo-mathematical  apparatus  and  in  discounting  most  of  the  labour 
which  must  have  been  spent  on  it. 

I  believe  that  kinship  is  really  the  most  difficult  subject  of  social  anthro- 
pology; I  believe  that  it  has  been  approached  in  a  fundamentally  wrong 
way;  and  I  believe  that  at  present  an  impasse  has  been  reached.  I  am 
convinced,  however,  that  there  is  a  way  out  of  this  impasse,  and  that 
some  of  the  recent  work,  notably  that  of  A.  R.  Radcliffe-Brown,  of 
Brenda  2.  Seligman  and  of  the  Californian  trinity,  has  placed  the  prob- 
lem on  the  correct  foundation.  This  has  been  done  by  a  full  recognition 
of  the  importance  of  the  family  and  by  the  application  of  what  is  now 
usually  called  the  functional  method  of  anthropology — a  method  which 
consists  above  all  in  the  analysis  of  primitive  institutions  as  they  work  at 
present,  rather  than  in  the  reconstruction  of  a  hypothetical  past.^ 

^In  a  book  on  kinship  which  I  am  preparing  I  shall  substantiate  this  indictment  in 
detail.  To  mention  only  the  very  best  field-work:  can  anyone  really  unravel  Prof. 
R.  Thurnwald's  diagrams  and  synoptics  of  kinship  in  his  otherwise  excellent  Gemeinde 
der  Bdnaro?  The  "kinship  systems"  of  the  Toda,  Arunta,  Ashanti,  Ba  Ila,  of  the  Cali- 
fornians  and  Melanesians,  amount  to  little  more  than  incorrectly  translated  fragments 
of  a  vocabulary.  All  our  data  on  kinship  are  insufficient  linguistically  and  inadequate 

*I  would  like  to  mention  Edward  Westermarck  and  Ernest  Grosse  as  the  forerunners 
in  matters  of  kinship  of  the  modern  movement.  Perhaps  the  first  monographic  description 
of  the  family,  from  an  area  where  its  very  existence  has  been  most  contested,  is  my 
Family  among  the  Australian  Aborigines  (1913).  In  the  same  year  there  appeared  an 
excellent  article  on  "Family,"  in  Hastings'  Encyclopaedia  of  Religion  and  Ethics,  written 
by  E.  N.  Fallaize.  More  recently  Kroeber,  in  his  Zuni  Kin  and  Clan  [1917],  and  Lowie 
in  his  field-work  on  the  Crow  Indians  and  in  his  book  on  Primitive  Society  [1920]  have 
very  strongly  emphasized  the  functional  point  of  view  in  reference  to  kinship.  Quite 
lately,  in  her  remarkable  article  on  "Incest  and  Descent,"  in  the  f.R.A.I.,  Mrs.  Seligman 
has  definitely  announced  her  conversion  to  the  functional  point  of  view  and  her  recogni- 
tion of  the  fundamental  importance  of  the  family.  (Vol.  LIX,  p.  234.) 



All  this  recent  work  is  bound  to  lead  us  to  the  correct  solution  of  the 
many  more  or  less  superficial  puzzles,  as  well  as  of  the  real  and  profound 
problems  of  kinship.  This  work  is  still  somewhat  diffused  and  chaotic, 
however,  and  there  is  the  need  of  a  comprehensive  contribution  which  will 
organize  and  systematically  integrate  the  results  of  the  functional  work, 
and  correct  a  few  mistakes  still  prevalent.  In  my  forthcoming  book  on 
kinship  I  am  making  an  attempt  at  such  a  systematic  treatment.  Here  I 
propose  to  indicate  in  a  preliminary  fashion  some  of  its  results.^ 

It  is  unnecessary,  perhaps,  in  addressing  the  readers  of  Man,  to  labour 
the  point  of  kinship  remaining  still  in  an  impasse.  The  several  interesting 
articles  in  the  present  periodical,  as  well  as  in  the  Journal,  show  how  pro- 
foundly even  the  few  most  devoted  and  most  spiritually  related  specialists 
disagree  with  one  another.^  As  a  member  of  the  inner  ring,  I  may  say 

^  The  subject  of  kinship,  and  above  all  the  fact  that  it  invariably  originates  in  the 
family,  vv^as  the  starting  point  of  my  anthropological  work.  The  book  on  The  Family 
among  the  Australian  Aborigines  was  begun  in  1909  and  published  in  1913.  I  laid  down 
there  a  number  of  principles  and  concretely  worked  out  some  of  my  general  ideas.  These 
I  was  able  more  fully  to  substantiate  in  my  subsequent  work  in  the  field  and  in  the 
study.  The  development  of  my  views  on  kinship  can  be  followed  from  my  first  field-work 
on  the  Mailu,  where  my  treatment  is  still  largely  conventional  and  incorrect  up  to  my 
article  s.v.  "Kinship"  in  the  14th  Edition  of  the  Encyclopaedia  Britannica  and  my  two 
volumes  on  sex  in  savage  life.  The  list  of  my  contributions  fully  or  partially  devoted  to 
kinship  follows: 

1.  The  Family  among  the  Australian  Aborigines,  London,  1913. 

2.  "The  Natives  of  Mailu,"  Transactions  of  the  R.  Soc.  of  S.  Australia,  Adelaide,  1915. 

3.  "The  Psychology  of  Sex  in  Primitive  Societies,"  Psyche,  Oct.  1923. 

4.  "Psycho-Analysis  and  Anthropology,"  Psyche,  Apr.  1924. 

5.  "Complex  and  Myth  in  Mother-Right,"  Psyche,  Jan.  1925. 

6.  "Forschungen  in  einer  mutterrechtlichen  Gemeinschaft,"  Zeitschrift  fur  V6l\er' 

psychologic  und  Soziologie,  Mar.  1925. 

7.  "Address  on  Anthropology  and  Social  Hygiene,"  Foundations  of  Social  Hygiene, 

London,  1926. 

8.  "Anthropology,"  article  in  Ency.  Brit.,  additional  volumes,  1926. 

9.  "The  Anthropological  Study  of  Sex,"  Verhandlungen  des  I.  Internationden  Kon- 

gresses  fiir  Sexualforschung,  Berlin,  1926. 

10.  Crime  and  Custom  in  Savage  Society,  London,  1926. 

11.  Sex  and  Repression  in  Savage  Society,  London,  1927  (embodies  4  and  5). 

12.  The  Sexual  Life  of  Savages,  London,  1929  (embodies  3  and  6). 

13.  "Kinship,"  article  in  Ency.  Brit.,  14th  Edit.,  1929  [Chapt.  6  herein]. 

14.  "Marriage,"  article  in  Ency.  Brit.,  14th  Edit.,  1929  [Chapt.  1  herein]. 

15.  "Social  Anthropology,"  article  in  Ency.  Brit.,  14th  Edit.,  1929  (revised  version 

of  8). 

'Cf.  I.R.A.I.,  Vol.  LVIII,  p.  533,  and  Vol.  LIX,  p.  231,  articles  by  Mrs.  B.  Z.  Selig- 
man;  Man,  1929,  No.  35,  by  A.  R.  Radcliffe-Brown,  and  No.  148,  by  E.  E.  Evans- 
Pritchard;  and  letters  by  Mrs.  Seligman  (1929,  No.  84),  by  A.  R.  Radcliffe-Brown 
(1929,  No.  157),  and  by  Lord  Raglan  (1930,  No.  13). 



that  whenever  I  meet  Mrs.  Sehgman  or  Dr.  Lowie  or  discuss  matters  with 
Radcliflfe-Brown  or  Kroeber,  I  become  at  once  aware  that  my  partner 
does  not  understand  anything  in  the  matter,  and  I  end  usually  with  the 
feeling  that  this  also  applies  to  myself.  This  refers  also  to  all  our  writ- 
ings on  kinship,  and  is  fully  reciprocal. 

The  impasse  is  really  due  to  the  inheritance  of  false  problems  from 
anthropological  tradition.  We  are  still  enmeshed  in  the  question  as  to 
whether  kinship  in  its  origins  was  collective  or  individual,  based  on  the 
family  or  the  clan.  This  problem  looms  very  large  in  the  writings  of  the 
late  W.  H.  R.  Rivers,  of  whom  most  of  us  in  the  present  generation  are 
pupils  by  direct  teaching  or  from  the  reading  of  his  works.  Another  false 
problem  is  that  of  the  origins  and  significance  of  classificatory  systems 
of  nomenclature.  This  problem,  or  any  problem  starting  from  the  classi- 
ficatory nature  of  kinship  terminologies,  must  be  spurious,  because  the 
plain  fact  is  that  classificatory  terminologies  do  not  exist  and  never  could 
have  existed.^  This  sounds  like  a  paradox  but  is  a  mere  truism  which  I 
propose  to  develop  later  in  another  article.  Connected  with  the  classi- 
ficatory obsession,  there  was  the  rage  for  the  explanation  of  queer  terms 
by  anomalous  marriages,  which  led  to  one  or  two  half-truths  but  also 
to  half  a  dozen  capital  errors  and  misconceptions.  The  conception  of 
mother-right  and  father-right  as  successive  stages  or  self-contained  entities, 
recently  so  well  and  convincingly  stigmatized  by  Radcliffe-Brown  (Man, 
1929,  No.  3  5),  has  been  embodied  in  yet  another  monument  of  brilliantly 
speculative  erroneousness  in  Briffault's  work  on  The  Mothers. 

The  real  trouble  in  all  this  is  that  we  have  been  hunting  for  origins 
of  kinship  before  we  had  properly  understood  the  nature  of  kinship.  We 
inquired  whether  mother-right  preceded  father-right  or  vice  versa,  with- 
out allowing  the  facts  to  convince  us,  as  they  must,  that  mother-right 
and  father-right  are  always  indissolubly  bound  up  with  each  other.  Be- 
cause we  have  profoundly  misunderstood  the  linguistic  nature  of  kinship 
terms,  we  are  able  to  make  the  monstrous  mistake  of  regarding  them  as 
"survivals,"  as  petrified  remains  of  a  previous  social  state.  It  is  almost 
ludicrous  with  what  naivete  Morgan  assumes  throughout  his  writings 
that  the  terminologies  of  kinship  invariably  lag  one  whole  "stage  of  de- 
velopment"— neither  more  nor  less — behind  the  sociological  status  in 
which  they  are  found;  and  yet  that  they  mirror  the  past  sociological 
status  perfectly.  The  mere  logical  circle  of  the  argument  is  appalling. 
But  even  worse  is  the  complete  misconception  of  the  nature  of  kinship 
terminologies  which,  in  fact,  are  the  most  active  and  the  most  effective 
expressions  of  human  relationship,  expressions  which  start  in  early  child- 
hood, which  accompany  human  intercourse  throughout  life,  which  em- 

^  For  the  most  recent,  brief,  clear  and  most  erroneous  statements  concerning  the  nature 
of  classificatory  terminologies,  see  the  letter  in  Man  by  Mr.  J.  D.  Unwin  (1929,  No.  124). 



body  all  the  most  personal,  passionate,  and  intimate  sentiments  of  a  man 
or  woman. 

The  modern  or  functional  anthropologist  proposes,  therefore,  to  under- 
stand what  kinship  really  means  to  the  native;  he  wishes  to  grasp  how 
terminologies  of  kinship  are  used  and  what  they  express;  he  wishes  to 
see  clearly  the  relations  between  the  family,  the  clan  and  the  tribe.  But 
the  more  he  studies  all  these  elements  of  the  problem  and  their  inter-rela- 
tion, the  more  clearly  he  realizes  that  we  have  to  do  here  not  with  a  num- 
ber of  isolated  entities  but  with  the  parts  of  an  organically  connected  whole. 
In  the  first  place,  the  family  and  the  clan,  for  instance,  which  have  hith- 
erto been  regarded  as  domestic  institutions  at  various  stages  of  develop- 
ment, appear  invariably  together.  That  is,  while  the  family  exists  in  many 
societies  alone,  the  clan  never  replaces  it,  but  is  found  as  an  additional  in- 
stitution. Again,  though  certain  tribes  use  kinship  terms  in  a  wider  sense, 
they  also  use  them  in  the  narrower  sense,  denoting  the  actual  members 
of  the  family.  Or,  again,  there  is  no  such  thing  as  pure  mother-right  or 
father-right,  only  a  legal  over-emphasis  on  one  side  of  kinship,  accom- 
panied very  often  by  a  strong  emotional,  at  times  even  customary,  reac- 
tion against  this  over-emphasis.  And,  in  all  communities,  whatever  the  legal 
system  might  be,  both  lines  are  de  facto  counted  and  influence  the  legal, 
economic,  religious  and  emotional  life  of  the  individual.  It  is,  therefore, 
nothing  short  of  nonsensical  to  perform  this  sort  of  illegitimate  pre- 
liminary surgery,  to  cut  the  organically  connected  elements  asunder,  and 
''explain"  them  by  placing  the  fragments  on  a  diagram  of  imaginary  de- 
velopment. The  real  problem  is  to  find  out  how  they  are  related  to  each 
other,  and  how  they  function,  that  is,  what  part  they  play  respectively 
within  the  society,  what  social  needs  they  satisfy,  and  what  influence  they 

To  put  it  clearly,  though  crudely,  I  should  say  that  the  family  is  al- 
ways the  domestic  institution  par  excellence.  It  dominates  the  early  life 
of  the  individual;  it  controls  domestic  co-operation;  it  is  the  stage  of 
earliest  parental  cares  and  education.  The  clan,  on  the  other  hand,  is 
never  a  domestic  institution.  Bonds  of  clanship  develop  much  later  in  life, 
and,  though  they  develop  out  of  the  primary  kinship  of  the  family,  this 
development  is  submitted  to  the  one-sided  distortion  of  matrilineal  or 
patrilineal  legal  emphasis,  and  it  functions  in  an  entirely  different  sphere 
of  interests:  legal,  economic,  above  all,  ceremonial.  Once  the  functional 
distinction  is  made  between  the  two  modes  of  grouping,  the  family  and 
the  clan,  most  of  the  spurious  problems  and  fictitious  explanations  dis- 
solve into  the  speculative  mist  out  of  which  they  were  born. 

I  shall  have,  however,  to  qualify  and  make  much  more  detailed  the 
above  contention.  Here  I  only  wish  to  point  out  that  kinship  presents 
really  several  facets  corresponding  to  the  various  phases  or  stages  of  its 



development  within  the  life  history  of  the  individual.  For  kinship  is  the 
phenomenon  which  begins  earliest  in  life  and  which  lasts  longest,  even 
as  the  word  mother  is  usually  the  first  word  formed  and  often  the  last 
word  uttered.  Kinship  as  it  appears  in  the  social  horizon  of  a  developed 
adult  tribesman  is  the  result  of  a  long  process  of  extensions  and  trans- 
formations. It  starts  in  early  Hfe  with  the  physiological  events  of  pro- 
creation; yet  even  these  are  profoundly  modified  in  human  society  by 
cultural  influences.  The  original  ties  of  kinship,  which  I  believe  firmly  are 
invariably  individual,  later  on  develop,  multiply  and  become  largely  com- 
munal. So  that,  at  the  end,  the  individual  finds  himself  the  centre  of  a 
complex  system  of  multiple  ties;  a  member  of  several  groups:  the  family, 
always;  the  extended  household,  in  many  communities;  the  local  group, 
almost  invariably;  the  clan,  very  often;  and  the  tribe,  without  any  excep- 
tion. I  am  convinced  that  if  the  study  of  kinship  ties  had  been  carried 
out  in  the  field  along  the  life  history  of  the  individual,  if  terminologies, 
legal  systems,  tribal  and  household  arrangements  had  been  studied  in 
process  of  development  and  not  merely  as  fixed  products — that  we  would 
have  been  completely  free  of  the  whole  nightmare  of  spurious  problems 
and  fantastic  conjectures.  It  is  almost  an  irony  in  the  history  of  anthro- 
pology that  the  most  ardent  evolutionists  as  well  as  the  most  embittered 
prophets  of  the  historical  method  have  completely  missed  development 
and  history  of  kinship  in  the  one  case  in  which  this  development  and 
history  can  be  studied  empirically.^ 

Whenever  we  become  convinced  that  a  phenomenon  must  be  studied  in 
its  development,  our  attention  naturally  must  become  focussed  on  its 
origins,  and  let  us  remember  that  here  we  are  deaHng,  not  with  a  fanci- 
ful, reconstructed  evolution,  but  with  the  observable  development  of 
kinship  in  human  life  and  that  origins  here  mean  simply  the  whole  set  of 
initial  conditions  which  determine  the  attitudes  of  the  actors  in  the  kinship 

These  actors  are  obviously  three  in  number  at  the  beginning — the  two 
parents  and  their  offspring.  And,  at  first  sight,  it  might  appear  that  the 
drama  itself  is  of  no  real  interest;  for  is  it  not  merely  the  physiological 
process  of  conception,  gestation  and  child-birth?  In  reality,  however,  the 
process  is  never  a  merely  physiological  one  in  human  societies.  However 
primitive  the  community,  the  facts  of  conception,  pregnancy  and  child- 
birth are  not  left  to  Nature  alone,  but  they  are  reinterpreted  by  cultural 

^My  friend  Mr.  T.  J.  A.  Yates  suggests  the  adjective  "biographical"  as  the  simplest 
description  of  the  method  of  approach  to  kinship  through  its  study  along  the  life  history 
of  the  individual.  I  shall  speak  in  future  of  the  "biographical  method"  in  order  to  define 
what  might  be  called  sociological  ontogeny.  Mr.  Yates  is  now  engaged  on  a  comparative 
study  of  the  functional  correlation  of  mother-right  and  father-right. 



tradition:  in  every  community  we  have  a  theory  as  to  the  nature  and  causes 
of  conception;  we  have  a  system  of  customary  observances,  religious, 
magical  or  legal,  which  define  the  behaviour  of  the  mother,  at  times  also 
of  the  father;  we  have,  specifically,  a  number  of  taboos  observed  during 
pregnancy  by  both  parents. 

Thus,  even  the  biological  foundation  of  kinship  becomes  invariably  a 
cultural  and  not  merely  a  natural  fact.  This  unquestionably  correct  prin- 
ciple has  become  at  the  hands  of  some  modern  anthropologists  the  starting 
point  for  a  new  reinterpretation  of  Morgan's  hypothesis  of  a  primitive 
communal  marriage.  Rivers,  the  most  conspicuous  modern  supporter  of 
Morgan's  theories,  is  fully  aware  that  group-marriage  implies  group- 
parenthood.  Yet  group-parenthood,  above  all  group-motherhood,  seems  to 
be  an  almost  unthinkable  hypothesis.  As  such  it  has  been  in  fact  ridiculed 
by  Andrew  Lang,  E.  Westermarck  and  N.  W.  Thomas.  Rivers,  however, 
following  in  this  the  brilliant  suggestions  of  Durkheim,  Dargun,  and 
Kohler,  argues  that,  since  cultural  influences  can  modify  maternity  in 
every  other  respect,  it  can  transform  it  even  from  an  individual  mother- 
hood into  a  sort  of  sociological  group-motherhood.  This  writer,  and  a 
number  of  his  followers,  notably  Mr.  Briffault,  would  lead  us  to  believe 
that  what  I  like  to  call  the  initial  situation  of  kinship  is  not  individual 
but  communal. 

I  have  adduced  these  very  recent  hypotheses  about  the  initial  situation  of 
kinship  in  order  to  show  that  its  study,  far  from  being  an  obvious  and 
superfluous  statement  of  a  physiological  fact,  raises  a  number  of  sociolog- 
ical questions,  even  of  controversial  points.  With  all  this,  the  study  of 
real  empirical  facts  seems  to  show  that  the  communal  interpretation  of  the 
initial  situation  is  definitely  erroneous.  I  can  but  anticipate  here  the  full 
presentation  of  my  argument,  and  say  that  while  I  recognize  that  kinship, 
even  in  its  origins,  is  a  cultural  rather  than  a  biological  fact,  this  culturally 
defined  kinship  is,  I  maintain,  invariably  individual.  All  the  primitive 
theories  of  procreation,  though  they  are  a  mixture  of  animistic  beliefs 
and  crude  empirical  observations,  invariably  define  parenthood  as  an  in- 
dividual bond.  The  taboos  of  pregnancy,  the  rites  observed  at  certain 
stages  of  gestation,  customs  of  the  couvade  type,  ceremonial  seclusion  of 
mother  and  child,  all  these  individualize  the  relationship  between  the  actual 
parents  and  their  offspring. 

While  most  of  these  facts  refer  to  the  individual  tie  between  mother 
and  child,  a  number  of  them,  such  as  the  couvade,  the  taboos  kept  by 
the  pregnant  woman's  husband,  his  economic  contributions  towards  preg- 
nancy ceremonies,  culturally  define  paternity,  and  at  the  same  time  in- 
dividualize this  relationship.  There  is  one  fact,  however,  of  paramount 
importance  as  regards  paternity,  a  generalization  so  cogent,  so  universally 
valid,  that  it  has,  to  my  knowledge,  been  almost  completely  overlooked,  as 



it  so  often  happens  to  the  ''obvious."  This  generalization  I  have  called,  in 
some  of  my  previous  writings,  the  principle  of  legitimacy^  This  principle 
declares  that,  in  all  human  societies,  a  father  is  regarded  by  law,  custom 
and  morals  as  an  indispensable  element  of  the  procreative  group.  The 
woman  has  to  be  married  before  she  is  allowed  legitimately  to  conceive, 
or  else  a  subsequent  marriage  or  an  act  of  adoption  gives  the  child  full 
tribal  or  civil  status.  Otherwise  the  child  of  the  unmarried  mother  is 
definitely  stigmatized  by  an  inferior  and  anomalous  position  in  society. 
This  is  as  true  of  the  polyandrous  Todas  (where  the  child  has,  in  fact, 
to  be  sociologically  assigned  to  one  father  among  the  several  husbands) ; 
of  the  matrilineal  Melanesians,  of  primitive  peoples  in  Australia,  in  North 
America,  and  in  Africa,  as  of  monogamous  and  Christian  Europe.  The 
principle  of  legitimacy  works  at  times  in  indirect  ways,  but  on  the  whole 
the  law  which  demands  marriage  as  the  preliminary  to  family  seems  to 
be  universal. 

I  beheve  that  a  correct  inductive  survey  of  all  the  evidence  at  our  dis- 
posal would  lead  us  to  the  answer  that  the  initial  situation  of  kinship  is 
a  compound  of  biological  and  cultural  elements,  or  rather  that  it  consists 
of  the  facts  of  individual  procreation  culturally  reinterpreted;  that  every 
human  being  starts  his  sociological  career  within  the  small  family  group, 
and  that  whatever  kinship  might  become  later  on  in  Hfe,  it  is  always  in- 
dividual kinship  at  first.  At  the  same  time  this  general  statement  gives  us 
only  the  broad  outlines  of  the  initial  situation;  this  becomes  from  the  out- 
set deeply  modified  by  such  elements  as  maternal  or  paternal  counting  of 
kinship,  matrilocal  or  patrilocal  residence,  the  relative  position  of  husband 
and  wife  in  a  community,  length  of  lactation,  types  of  seclusion  and 
taboos.  The  study  of  the  initial  situation,  far  from  being  trite  and  insig- 
nificant, is  a  rich  field  of  sociological  investigation,  and  a  field  on  which 
the  anthropologist  and  the  modern  psychologist  meet  in  common  interest. 

With  the  conclusion  that  individual  parenthood,  defined  by  cultural 
as  well  as  biological  forces,  forms  invariably  the  initial  situation  of  kinship, 
the  foundations  of  a  correct  theory  have  been  laid.  But  the  task  is  not 
yet  complete.  What  I  have  named  the  initial  situation  is  important  in 
its  influence  on  later  life.  Parenthood  interests  the  sociologists  not  only 
in  itself,  whether  as  an  exhibition  of  human  tenderness  or  as  an  example 
of  the  cultural  transformation  of  instinct,  but  rather  in  that  it  is  the 
starting  point  of  most  other  sociological  relationships  and  the  prototype 
of  the  characteristic  social  attitudes  of  a  community.  It  is,  therefore,  the 
processes  of  the  extension  of  kinship  from  its  extremely  simple  begin- 
nings in  plain  parenthood,  to  its  manifold  ramifications  and  complexities 

"Cf.  article  on  the  "Psychology  of  Sex  in  Primitive  Societies,"  Psyche,  Oct.  1923;  Sex 
and  Repression,  1927,  Part  V;  Chapter  VII  of  the  Sexual  Life  of  Savages;  article  on 
"Kinship"  in  Ency.  Brit.,  1929  [Chapt.  6  of  Sex,  Culture,  and  Myth].  Cf.  also  The 
Family,  Chapters  V  and  VI. 



in  adult  membership  of  tribe,  clan  and  local  group,  which,  in  my  opinion, 
forms  the  real  subject-matter  of  the  study  of  kinship.  It  is  in  the  study 
of  these  processes  that  the  true  relationship  between  clan  and  family,  be- 
tween classificatory  systems  and  individual  attitudes,  between  the  socio- 
logical and  the  biological  elements  of  kinship,  can  be  discovered. 

Most  of  the  mistakes  were  due  to  the  following  false  argument:  all  kin- 
ship is  biological;  the  cohesion  of  a  clan  is  based  on  kinship;  ergo,  clanship 
has  a  direct  biological  basis.  This  conclusion  has  led  to  such  capital 
howlers  as  that  "the  clan  marries  the  clan  and  begets  the  clan";  that  **the 
clai  ,  like  the  family,  is  a  reproductive  group";  and  that  "a  domestic  group, 
other  than  the  family"  is  the  environment  of  primitive  childhood.  The 
perpetrators  of  these  and  similar  are  no  lesser  anthropologists  than  Fison, 
Spencer  and  Gillen,  Briffault,  and  Rivers. 

All  this  nonsense  could  never  have  obsessed  some  of  the  clearest  minds 
in  anthropology  had  the  study  of  the  initial  situation  been  made  the  start- 
ing point,  and  the  study  of  subsequent  processes  of  extension  the  main 
theme,  of  social  anthropology.  For  the  "origins  of  the  clan  system"  are 
not  to  be  found  in  some  nebulous  past  by  imaginary  speculations.  They 
happen  nowadays  under  our  very  eyes.  Any  reasonably  intelligent  and 
unprejudiced  anthropologist  who  works  within  a  tribe  with  clan  organiza- 
tion can  see  them  taking  place. 

I  have,  myself,  witnessed  the  "origins  of  the  clan"  in  Melanesia,  and 
I  think  that  even  from  this  one  experience  I  am  able  to  draw  a  universally 
valid  conclusion,  or  at  least  a  generalization  which  ought  to  be  universally 
tested.  Especially  since  all  the  fragmentary  evidence  from  other  areas  fits 
perfectly  well  into  the  scheme  based  on  Melanesian  facts. 

The  process  by  which  clanship  and  other  forms  of  communal  kinship 
develop  out  of  the  initial  situation  is  in  reality  not  easy  to  grasp  or  to 
define.  The  main  difficulty  consists  in  the  fact  that  it  is  a  lengthy  and  in- 
terrupted process;  that  its  threads  are  many,  and  that  the  pattern  can 
only  be  discovered  after  an  integration  of  detailed  and  intimate  observa- 
tions over  a  lengthy  period  of  time.  And  so  far,  it  has  been  the  custom 
of  competent  sociologists  to  pay  only  flying  visits  to  savage  tribes,  for 
which  practice  the  euphemism  of  "survey-work"  has  been  invented.  While 
the  long-residence  amateur  was  unable  to  see  the  wood  for  the  trees. 

But  there  is  one  definite  source  of  difficulty.  This  is  the  fact  that  in 
the  biographical  development  of  kinship  we  have  a  two-fold  process,  or 
rather  two  correlated  processes,  one,  roughly,  of  consolidation  and  exten- 
sion of  family  ties,  the  other  a  process  in  which  the  family  is  over-ridden, 
in  which  kinship  is  submitted  to  a  process  of  one-sided  distortion,  and 
in  which  the  group  or  communal  character  of  human  relations  is  defijiitely 
emphasized  at  the  expense  of  the  individual  character. 

I  shall  proceed  to  amplify  this  statement,  but  I  want  to  mention  here 
that  this  duality  of  kinship  growth  has  given  rise  to  most  of  the  mis- 



conceptions,  above  all  to  the  quarrel  as  to  whether  primitive  kinship  is 
communal  or  individual,  whether  it  is  essentially  bilateral  or  unilateral.^^ 
Kinship  in  primitive  communities  has  invariably  the  individual  aspect, 
it  has  in  most  cases  also  the  communal  one.  Each  aspect  is  the  result  of  a 
different  process,  it  is  formed  by  different  educational  mechanisms,  and  it 
has  its  own  function  to  fulfil.  The  real  scientific  attitude  is,  not  to  quarrel 
as  to  which  of  the  two  actually  existing  phases  of  kinship  has  a  moral 
right  or  a  logical  justification  for  its  existence  but  to  study  their  relation 
to  each  other. 

Let  me  first  briefly  outline  the  process  of  consolidation  of  the  family. 
For  it  must  be  remembered  that,  clan  or  no  clan,  the  individual's  own 
family  remains  a  stable  unit  throughout  his  lifetime.  The  parents,  in  most 
societies,  not  only  educate  and  materially  equip  the  child,  but  they  also 
watch  over  his  adolescence,  control  his  marriage,  become  the  tender  and 
solicitous  grandparents  of  his  children  and  in  their  old  age  often  rely  on 
his  help.  Thus  the  early  bonds  of  kinship,  which  start  in  the  initial  situa- 
tion, persist  throughout  life.  But  they  undergo  a  long  process  which,  on 
the  one  hand,  as  we  have  said,  is  one  of  consolidation,  and  on  the  other 
one  of  partial  undermining  and  dissolution. 

The  consolidation  in  its  early  phases  starts  with  the  physiological  de- 
pendence of  the  infant  upon  his  parents,  which  shades  into  the  early  train- 
ing of  impulses,  and  that  again  passes  into  education.  With  education 
there  are  associated  already  certain  wider  sociological  implications  of  par- 
enthood. The  child  has  to  be  educated  in  certain  arts  and  crafts,  and 
this  implies  that  he  will  inherit  the  occupations,  the  tools,  the  lands  or 
hunting-grounds  of  his  father  or  his  mother's  brother.  Education,  again, 
embraces  the  training  in  tribal  traditions,  but  tribal  traditions  refer  to 
social  organization,  to  the  role  which  the  child  will  play  in  society, 
and  this  the  child  usually  takes  over  from  his  father  or  his  mother's 

Thus,  already,  at  the  phase  of  education,  kinship  may  either  simply  and 
directly  confirm  the  father's  role  in  the  family,  or,  in  matriHneal  societies, 
It  may  partly  disrupt  the  family  by  introducing  an  outsider  as  the  man 
in  power. 

At  the  same  time  the  dependence  of  the  child  upon  the  household  varies 
to  a  considerable  extent  in  different  societies.  He  or  she  may  either  re- 
mam  as  an  inmate  in  the  parents'  house,  sleeping,  eating  and  spending 
most  of  his  time  there;  or  else  the  child  moves  somewhere  else,  becomes 
influenced  by  other  people,  and  forms  new  bonds.  In  communities  where 
there  are  ceremonies  of  initiation  the  sociological  function  of  such  customs 
consists  often  in  divorcing  the  child  from  the  family,  above  all  from 
Cf.  for  instance  the  interesting  correspondence  between  Mrs.  Seligman  and  Professor 
Radcliffe-Brown  in  Man,  1929,  Nos.  84  and  157. 



maternal  influences,  and  in  making  him  aware  of  his  unilateral  bonds  of 
clanship,  especially  with  his  male  clansmen.  This  is  obviously  an  influence 
of  a  disruptive  rather  than  a  consolidating  character  so  far  as  the  family 
is  concerned. 

When  it  comes  to  adolescence  and  sexual  life,  there  is  an  enormous 
variety  of  configurations  but  usually  sexuality  removes  the  boy  or  girl 
from  the  family  and  through  the  rules  of  exogamy  makes  him  or  her 
aware  of  their  participation  in  the  clan.  At  marriage,  on  the  other  hand, 
the  own  father  and  mother,  at  times  some  other  near  relative,  always  in- 
dividual, come  into  prominence.  The  founding  of  a  new  household  means 
to  a  large  extent  a  final  detachment  from  the  parental  one.  But  the  par- 
ents, whether  of  the  husband  or  the  wife,  reaffirm  the  relationship  by 
the  already  mentioned  fact  of  grandparenthood.  Finally,  in  old  age,  new 
duties  define  the  relationship  between  an  adult  man  and  his  decrepit  fa- 
ther or  mother.  Thus,  throughout  all  the  varieties  which  we  find  scattered 
over  the  globe,  in  main  outline  we  find  that  the  individual  relation  of 
offspring  to  parents  develops,  receives  several  shocks  and  diminutions,  be- 
comes reaffirmed  again,  but  always  remains  one  of  the  dominant  senti- 
ments in  human  life,  manifesting  itself  in  moral  rules,  in  legal  obligations, 
in  religious  ritual.  For,  last  not  least,  at  death,  parent  or  offspring  alike 
have  to  fulfil  some  of  the  principal  mortuary  duties  and,  in  ancestor-cults 
— which,  in  a  more  or  less  pronounced  form  are  to  be  found  everywhere 
— the  spirits  of  the  departed  are  always  dependent  on  their  lineal  descend- 
ants. The  consolidation  of  family  ties,  and  of  the  concept  of  family 
and  household,  manifests  itself  in  the  extensions  of  the  early  kinship  at- 
titudes to  members  of  other  households.  Thus  in  most  primitive  com- 
munities, whatever  be  their  way  of  counting  descent,  the  households  of 
the  mother's  sister  and  of  the  father's  brother  play  a  considerable  part 
and  in  many  ways  become  substitute  homes  for  the  child. 

I  have  stressed,  so  far,  the  elements  of  consolidation,  let  me  now  muster 
those  of  disruption.  The  actual  weaning,  the  removal  from  the  family, 
especially  from  the  mother's  control,  outside  influences  such  as  that  of 
the  mother's  brother,  at  times  of  the  father's  sister  or  brother,  initiation 
and  the  formation  of  a  new  household — all  these  influences  run  counter 
to  the  original  ties  and  militate  against  the  persistence  of  parental  bonds 
and  influences.  At  the  same  time  most  of  these  disruptive  influences  are 
not  really  negations  of  kinship.  They  are  rather  one-sided  distortions  of 
the  original  parental  relationship.  Thus,  the  mother's  brother,  in  matri- 
lineal  societies,  becomes  the  nucleus  of  the  matrilineal  clan.  The  training 
in  tribal  law,  especially  and  dramatically  given  at  initiation,  while  it  re- 
moves the  boy  from  the  exclusive  tutelage  of  the  family,  imbues  him  with 
ideas  of  clan  identity  and  solidarity. 

Clan  identity  becomes  especially  prominent  in  certain  phases  of  tribal 
life.  During  big  tribal  gatherings,  whether  for  economic  enterprise  or 


war,  or  enjoyment,  the  bonds  of  clanship  become  prominent,  the  family 
almost  disappears.  Especially  is  this  the  case  in  large  religious  or  magical 
ceremonies  such  as  those  reported  from  Central  Australia,  Papua,  Melanesia 
and  the  various  districts  of  North  America.  On  such  occasions  there  takes 
place  a  recrystallization  of  the  sociological  structure  within  the  com- 
munity, which  brings  vividly  to  the  minds  of  young  and  old  the  reality 
of  the  clan  system. 

We  can  see,  therefore,  that  the  clan  develops  as  a  derived  sociological 
form  of  grouping  by  empirical  processes  which  can  be  followed  along 
the  life  history  of  the  individual,  which  always  take  place  later  in  life — 
full  clanship  taking  hold  of  an  individual  only  at  maturity — and  which 
embrace  a  type  of  interests  very  different  from  those  obtaining  within 
the  family. 

As  I  have  tried  to  show  elsewhere  already  there  is  something  almost 
absurd  in  the  tendency  of  anthropologists  to  treat  the  family  and  the 
clan  as  equivalent  units  which  can  replace  one  another  in  the  evolution 
of  mankind. The  relation  between  parents  and  child — that  is,  family 
relations — are  based  on  procreation,  on  the  early  physiological  cares  given 
by  the  parents  to  the  child  and  on  the  innate  emotional  attitudes  which 
unite  offspring  and  parents.  These  elements  are  never  found  in  clanship. 
This  institution,  on  the  other  hand,  is  based  on  factors  which  are  quite 
alien  to  the  family:  on  the  identity  of  a  totemic  nature;  on  mythological 
fictions  of  a  unilateral  common  descent  from  an  ancestor  or  an  ancestress; 
and  a  number  of  religious  or  magical  duties  and  observances.  It  may  be 
safely  laid  down  that  the  family,  based  on  marriage,  is  the  only  domestic 
institution  of  mankind,  that  is,  the  only  institution  the  function  of  which 
is  the  procreation,  the  early  cares  and  the  elementary  training  of  the  off- 
spring. Kinship  thus  always  rests  on  the  family  and  begins  within  the 
family.  The  clan  is  essentially  a  non-reproductive,  non-sexual  and  non- 
parental  group,  and  it  is  never  the  primary  source  and  basis  of  kinship. 
But  the  clan  always  grows  out  of  the  family,  forming  round  one  of  the 
two  parents  by  the  exclusive  legal  emphasis  on  the  one  side  of  kinship,  at 
times  backed  by  a  one-sided  reproductive  theory.  The  functions  of  the 
clan  are  mostly  legal  and  ceremonial,  at  times  also  magical  and  economic. 

Family  and  clan  differ  thus  profoundly  in  origins,  in  the  functions  which 
they  fulfil,  and  in  the  nature  of  the  bonds  which  unite  their  members. 
They  differ  also  in  structure.  The  family  always  embraces  the  two  princi- 
ples essential  to  procreation — motherhood  and  fatherhood.  The  clan  is 
based  on  the  partial  negation  of  one  of  these  principles.  But  the  difference 
goes  farther.  The  family  is  self-contained  as  regards  its  functions.  The 
^Sce  B.  Malinovvski,  article  on  "Kinship,"  in  Ency.  Brit.,  14th  Edit.,  1929  [Chapt. 
6  of  Sex,  Culture,  and  Myth],  esp.  "The  Clan  and  the  Family"  [pp.  147-149  of  Sex, 
Culture,  and  Myth], 



clan,  by  the  very  nature  of  its  formation,  is  a  dependent  and  correlated 
unit.  The  body  of  actually  recognized  relatives  in  the  widest,  that  is 
classificatory,  sense  never  consists  of  the  clansmen  alone.  It  embraces  the 
own  clansmen — that  is,  kinsmen  on  the  relevant  side — the  clansmen  of 
the  irrelevant  parent,  the  clanspeople  of  the  consort,  and  members  of  the 
other  clans  who  take  part  in  the  communal  game  of  exchange  of  services, 
so  characteristic  of  the  tribes  organized  on  the  basis  of  the  clan.  It  is 
the  tribe,  as  the  body  of  conjoined  and  mutually  related  clans,  which 
at  the  classificatory  level  corresponds  to  the  family.  The  sociological 
equivalence  of  family  and  clan,  which  has  played  so  much  havoc  with  so- 
cial anthropology,  is  a  misapprehension  due  to  the  omission  of  functional 
analysis  and  of  the  biographical  method  in  the  study  of  kinship  problems. 

I  have  started  with  a  protest  against  the  subordination  of  the  flesh  and 
blood  side  of  kinship  to  the  formal,  pseudo-mathematical  treatment  to 
which  it  has  been  so  often  subjected.  I  have  justified  my  criticism  in  a 
positive  manner  by  showing  that  there  are  fundamental  problems  of  kin- 
ship which  demand  a  great  deal  of  first-hand  sociological  observation  and 
of  theoretical  analysis:  problems  which  must  be  solved  even  before  we 
start  kinship  algebra.  The  initial  situation,  the  principle  of  legitimacy,  the 
two  correlated  processes  of  extension,  the  multiplicity  of  kinship  group- 
ings— this  is  an  extensive  field  for  full-blooded  sociological  research  in  the 
field  and  in  the  study.  Through  the  biographical  approach  and  the  func- 
tional analysis  which  I  have  advocated,  most  of  these  problems  become 
transferred  to  the  realm  of  empirical  research  from  that  of  hypothetical 

There  remain  a  number  of  questions,  however,  on  which  I  was  hardly 
able  to  touch,  above  all  the  notorious  puzzle  of  classificatory  terminologies. 
I  have  left  this  latter  question  on  one  side  on  purpose:  words  grow  out 
of  life,  and  kinship  words  are  nothing  else  but  counters  or  labels  for  social 
relations.  Even  as,  sociologically,  kinship  is  a  compound  and  complex  net- 
work of  ties,  so  every  native  nomenclature  consists  of  several  layers  or 
systems  of  kinship  designations.  One  system  is  used  only  to  the  parents  and 
members  of  the  household.  Another  stratum  of  kinship  appellations  is  ex- 
tended to  the  next  nearest  circle  of  relatives,  the  mother's  sister  and 
brother,  the  father's  brother  and  sister,  their  offspring  and  the  grand- 
parents. Yet  another  type  of  kinship  words  applies  to  the  wider  relatives 
of  the  immediate  neighbourhood.  Finally  there  are  kinship  words  used 
in  a  truly  classificatory  sense,  based  partly  but  never  completely  on  the 
distinctions  of  clanship.  The  sounds  used  in  these  different  senses  are  the 
same,  but  the  uses,  that  is  the  meanings,  are  distinct.  Each  use,  moreover, 
the  individual,  the  extended,  the  local  and  the  classificatory,  is  differ- 
entiated by  phonetic  distinctions,  however  slight,  by  fixed  circumlocu- 



tions,  and  by  contextual  indices.^-  It  is  only  through  the  extraordinary  in- 
competence of  the  linguistic  treatment  in  kinship  terminologies  that  the 
compound  character  of  primitive  terminologies  has,  so  far,  been  completely 
overlooked.  "Classificatory  terminologies"  really  do  not  exist,  as  I  have 
said  already.  But  I  shall  have  to  return  to  this  question  once  more. 

After  that,  it  will  be  possible  for  me  to  criticize  directly  the  logical 
game  of  kinship  algebra  from  Morgan  and  Kohler  to  Rivers  and  Mrs.  B. 
Z.  Seligman;  and  to  show  within  which  limits  this  game  is  legitimate 
and  where  it  becomes  spurious.  There  remain  one  or  two  questions:  the 
definition  of  kinship  and  descent,  on  which  I  have  been  recently  criticized 
by  A.  R.  Radchffe-Brown  in  the  present  periodical;  the  nature  of  kinship 
extensions,  where  I  have  to  deal  with  the  strictures  of  my  friend  E.  E. 
Evans-Pritchard  (also  in  Man) ;  the  nature  of  the  functional  treatment 
of  kinship,  where  I  have  drawn  some  kindly,  but  I  think  irrelevant,  criti- 
cism from  Lord  Raglan  in  the  last  number  of  Man. 

^^Some  points  here  briefly  touched  upon  will  be  found  elaborated  in  Chapter  XVI, 
Section  6,  of  my  Sexual  Life  of  Savages,  and  in  my  Memoir  on  "The  Problem  of  Meaning 
in  Primitive  Languages"  in  Ogden  and  Richards's  Meaning  of  Meaning. 


llllilll  CULTURE  AND 

iiiiiiii  7  iiiiiiiiiiiiimii 


That  we  are  passing  through  a  cultural  crisis  of  unprecedented  magnitude 
and  of  a  definitely  putrid  quality  nobody  doubts,  except,  of  course,  the 
999  in  1000  intellectual  ostriches  who  prefer  to  remain  head  in  sand 
rather  than  to  face  realities.  There  are  also  those  who  react  with  complete 
defeatism;  who  are  satisfied  with  nihilistic  prophecies  of  decay  and  down- 
fall. Oswald  Spengler  has  made  himself  the  most  popular  and  decorative 
spokesman  of  this  group. 

But  there  are  still  a  few  left  who  prefer  to  stand  for  intellectual  integ- 
rity, and  fight  even  if  victory  be  uncertain.  These  can  see  only  one  way 
out  of  the  straits — the  establishment  of  a  rational  and  empirical,  that  is, 
scientific,  control  of  human  affairs.  This  is  the  faith  of  those  united  in 
the  present  intellectual  venture;  it  is  the  aim  and  thesis  of  this  volume. 

In  this  chapter  I  attempt  to  show  that  cultural  anthropology  can  and 
must  provide  the  foundations  of  the  social  sciences.  It  can  do  this  by 
defining  the  nature  of  human  associations,  of  economic  pursuits,  legal 
institutions,  magical  and  religious  practices,  studied  within  the  widest 
range  accessible  to  observation  and  analysis.  In  order  to  do  this,  it  is 
necessary  to  re-define  the  aims  and  scope  of  cultural  anthropology.  This 
science  is,  in  fact,  at  present  detaching  itself  more  and  more  from  the 
agreeable  and  fascinating  hunt  for  the  exotic,  the  savage,  and  the  diversi- 
fied. As  a  science,  it  has  to  concentrate  more  and  more  on  the  universally 
human  and  fundamental,  even  when  this  lacks  the  touch  of  sensationalism 

This  article  was,  in  its  original  form,  a  paper  delivered  at  the  Harvard  Ter- 
centenary Conference  of  Arts  and  Sciences,  Sept.  7,  193  6.  It  was  published  in, 
and  is  reprinted  by  permission  of  the  publishers  of,  Factors  Determining  Human 
Behavior,  by  Edgar  Douglas  Adrian  and  others,  Cambridge,  Mass.,  Harvard 
University  Press,  Copyright,  1937,  by  The  President  and  Fellows  of  Harvard 
College.  It  was  republished,  after  the  author's  additions,  in  Human  Affairs,  edited 
by  R.  B.  Cattell,  Macmillan,  1937. 

The  first  part  of  this  essay  (pp.  167-174)  appeared  in  Human  Affairs,  hut 
was  not  included  in  the  Harvard  address. 



and  remains  as  dull  and  drab  as  the  daily  Hfe  of  man  and  woman,  as  their 
quest  for  food,  and  their  concern  with  children  and  cattle. 

The  science  of  man  is  still  conceived  by  laymen  as  a  colorful  display 
of  strange  oddities  and  quiddities  of  the  savage;  as  the  antiquarian  search 
for  origins,  survivals,  and  evolutionary  side-tracks.  Why  is  a  cannibal 
so  cannibalistic?  Why  does  he  avoid  his  mother-in-law  with  so  many  cir- 
cumstantial rudenesses?  Why  does  he  kill  one  twin  or  even  two,  while 
we  worship  quads  and  quins?  Head-hunting,  juicy  stories  about  orgiastic 
ritual,  somewhat  shocking  forms  of  primitive  marriage,  obscene  mutila- 
tions, and  mysterious  masked  dances  are  undoubtedly  more  amusing  to 
speak  about  or  even  to  listen  to  than  economics,  law,  and  social  organiza- 
tion. But  scientifically  these  latter  are  more  relevant. 

There  is  no  doubt  that  in  the  vast  museum  of  human  achievement — 
or  failure — in  progress  there  can  be  found  strange  hypertrophies,  unique 
distortions,  and  quaint  deviations  from  the  human  average.  These,  how- 
ever, are  but  the  plums  or  currants  in  the  pudding  of  each  culture.  Take 
the  most  primitive  or  most  exotic  of  human  civilizations,  and  you  will 
find  there  still  the  same  ordinary  universally  human  standardized  institu- 
tions: the  domestic  hearth  round  which  there  live,  work,  love,  and  hate 
each  other  the  members  of  the  family;  the  co-operative  group,  which 
goes  out  to  dig  roots  and  search  for  edible  grubs,  who  till  the  soil  or 
do  the  hunting;  or,  again,  the  congregation  of  the  faithful  who  worship 
a  totem  or  a  supreme  being,  an  ancestral  spirit  or  a  fetish.  For  all  human 
beings  must  be  nourished,  and  they  have  to  reproduce;  they  must  co-oper- 
ate in  technical  and  economic  pursuits;  they  have  to  obey  rules  of  conduct, 
and  these  have  to  be  enforced  in  one  way  or  another.  They  must  live, 
love,  and  be  safe,  even  before  they  dance,  paint,  enact  strange  ceremonies, 
and  develop  sacred  or  profane  fiction.  Even  in  these  later  pursuits,  how- 
ever, the  fears,  hopes,  and  desires  of  man  are  not  arbitrary,  hence  not  in- 
definitely or  indeterminately  diverse. 

The  search  for  determinism  in  the  broadest  and  most  fundamental 
principles  of  human  behavior  is,  therefore,  the  first  and  foremost  sci- 
entific task  of  anthropology  conceived  as  basis  and  starting-point  of  other 
social  studies.  But  even  in  the  case  of  very  strange  and  outlandish  cus- 
toms or  institutions,  explanation  can  only  mean  the  reduction  of  the 
exotic  and  singular  to  elements  universally  human  and  familiar.  Consider, 
for  instance,  head-hunting,  or  the  potlatch,  running  amok,  or  lying  in 
couvade.  What  can  be  meant  by  explaining  these  in  a  scientific  analysis? 
Only  when  we  begin  to  perceive  that  at  the  basis  of  a  strange,  at  first 
incomprehensible,  custom  or  institution  there  exist  fundamental  human 
tendencies  or  influences  of  environment;  when  we  see  how  that  one- 
strange  custom  depends  on  and  is  related  to  certain  pursuits  which  are 
universal  and,  therefore,  immediately  comprehensible — then,  and  then  only, 
can  we  say  that  we  understand  the  custom. 



The  couvade,  for  instance,  is  brought  nearer  to  our  comprehension  if 
we  consider  it  as  a  very  strong  expression  of  the  physiological  claims  of 
paternity,  and  of  the  tendency — universal,  though  usually  less  marked — 
for  the  father  to  assimilate  his  role  to  that  of  his  wife.  The  potlatch, 
again,  is  but  a  highly  magnified  collective  gesture  of  grandiloquent  gen- 
erosity or  conspicuous  waste,  of  which  we  find  symptoms  and  manifesta- 
tions in  every  culture,  less  obvious,  no  doubt,  and  less  pointed,  but  un- 
mistakably akin  to  the  great  feasts  of  the  Northwest  Indians. 

Having  lived  from  childhood  in  a  variety  of  cultural  settings — among 
the  then  semi-savage  Carpathian  mountaineers,  and  among  Baltic  barons, 
having  moved  from  Poland  to  North  Africa  and  from  the  Canary  Islands 
to  north  Germany  and  France — and  later  having  worked  among  several 
exotic  cultures,  I  have  more  than  once  experienced  the  reduction  of  the  ex- 
otic to  the  familiar.  When  you  enter  a  new  cultural  setting,  the  behavior, 
individual  or  collective,  of  the  new  type  of  human  beings  seems  strange, 
unmotivated,  irrational,  in  short  incomprehensible.  You  learn  the  lan- 
guage, you  gradually  adopt  the  strange  habits  and  the  new  points  of 
view — and  imperceptibly  what  was  alien  becomes  familiar  and  you  feel 
at  home  in  what  recently  had  been  an  exotic  milieu.  The  universally  hu- 
man running  through  all  the  cultures  is  the  common  measure  of  compre- 
hension and  adaptation. 

With  all  this,  there  are  no  doubt  certain  queer  and  extremely  exotic 
habits  which  will  always  remain  unamenable  to  explanation,  hence  quaint 
and  almost  repugnant.  Even  now  I  cannot  understand — indeed  I  feel  a 
strong  repulsion  at  the  very  thought  of  it — how  certain  human  beings 
can  enjoy  playing  golf,  or  committing  suicide  by  hara-kiri;  how  some 
natives  are  able  to  remain  for  long  stretches  of  time  standing  in  the  rain 
and  looking  at  a  few  others  kick  a  large  round  object  (this  is  called  among 
the  natives  of  England  ''football") ;  or  why  some  South  Sea  natives  must 
collect  pickled  heads,  etc.  etc.  Even  in  such  cases,  however,  as  eating  of 
human  flesh,  underdone  beef,  or  plum  pudding,  playing  golf,  running 
amok,  and  the  practice  of  couvade,  the  anthropologist  may  attempt  to 
survey  the  psychological  raw  material  of  the  pursuit,  can  assume  a  cer- 
tain diversity  of  taste  in  human  beings,  and  define  the  pursuit  in  terms 
of  the  universally  human. 

But  it  must  be  clear  to  anyone  with  training  in  natural  science  or  a 
scientific  outlook  in  cultural  matters  that  the  less  fundamental  a  phenom- 
enon, the  more  complex  and  concrete  the  factors  which  enter  into  its 
make-up,  the  lesser  will  be  the  chance  of  its  becoming  the  subject  of  a 
general  law,  the  result  of  universally  valid  principles.  Science  begins  and 
ends  with  the  establishment  of  general  principles  valid  for  all  the  phenom- 
ena which  fall  within  its  purview.  The  science  of  human  behavior,  that 
is,  of  culture,  is  not  an  exception  to  this  rule. 

One  of  the  greatest  virtues  of  a  scientific  worker  consists  in  knowing 



precisely  where  to  draw  the  hmits  of  legitimate  research;  it  consists  in 
possessing  the  courage  of  a  clear  and  emphatic  ignoramus,  ignorabimus. 
The  humanist  has  perhaps  not  yet  clearly  recognized  the  beauty  of  this 
virtue.  He  has  not  drawn  strongly  enough  the  hne  dividing  art,  intuition, 
and  empathy  from  scientific  research.  To  a  humanist  both  qualities  are 
necessary;  they  may  be  combined;  they  should  never  be  confounded.  Just 
now  when  we  are  faced  with  the  danger  of  a  complete  breakdown  of  the 
scientific  approach  and  of  faith  in  science,  combined  with  a  corroding 
pessimism  as  to  the  value  of  reason  in  deahng  with  human  affairs,  the 
power  of  reason  must  be  affirmed  and  its  functions  clearly  defined.  It 
is  not  an  accident  that  Spengler's  nihilism  and  defeatism  is  founded  on  an 
entirely  anti-deterministic,  hence  anti-scientific,  conception  of  culture.  To 
Spengler,  "Culture"  is  an  autonomous  group-mind  or  collective  genius 
which  expresses  its  free  will  in  those  outward  shadowy  manifestations 
which,  to  the  uninitiated  and  unwary,  appear  as  the  substance.  The  Eye 
of  the  Illuminated  Seer  and  Prophet  alone  perceives  that  they  are  but 
the  outer  husk,  and  penetrates  beyond  to  the  inner  meaning.  This  gran- 
diose and  mystical  conception  of  culture  as  a  Spirit-behind-the-facts  has 
fascinated  millions  and  stultified  the  work  of  social  science  for  a  genera- 
tion or  two. 

The  jack-in-the-box  conception  of  culture,  as  the  self-revelation  of 
an  immanent  Genius  or  Deity,  has  been  cultivated  in  German  meta- 
physics; it  reaches  its  peak  in  Hegel's  Historical  Idealism.  But  its  full 
practical  application  had  to  wait  till  the  arrival  of  the  latest  incarnation 
of  the  Absolute — Herr  Adolf  Hitler. 

The  conception  lends  itself  not  only  to  a  mood  of  pessimism,  but  also 
to  an  aggressive,  strong-fisted,  and  somewhat  egocentric  Wille  zur  Macht. 
It  has  become  the  spiritual  charter  of  National  Socialism  and  Fascism,  and 
also  (let  us  be  fair)  of  Communist  dictatorships-in-culture.  For  every 
dictatorship  can  make  good  use  of  a  doctrine  which  regards  all  civilization 
not  as  the  expression  of  the  needs,  desires,  and  fundamental  characteris- 
tics of  the  many,  but  rather  as  the  dictated  will  of  one.  No  dictatorship 
can  tolerate  more  than  one  standard  or  arbiter  of  ultimate  wisdom  and 
value.  It  must  be  truth  or  Hitler,  scientific  determinism  or  Stalin,  results 
of  research  or  Mussolini.  Whether  you  accept  doctrinaire  Marxism  as 
the  ultimate  answer  to  all  questions,  or  the  view  that  one  "racial"  or  "na- 
tional genius"  alone  has  produced  the  civihzation  (and  goes  on  produc- 
ing it  in  the  dictates  and  pronunciamentos  of  a  Ministry  of  Propaganda 
and  Kultur) ,  there  is  no  room  for  free,  uninspired,  and  untrammelled  re- 
search into  the  determinism  of  historical  process,  the  limits  of  legitimate 
legislation,  the  ethics  of  oppression,  and  arbitrary  molding  of  human 
character  and  spirit. 

On  the  negative  side,  therefore,  the  following  survey  of  fact  and 
argument  is  directed  largely  against  the  gigantic  abuses,  theoretical  and 



practical,  of  the  Hegelian  principle  that  civilization  is  but  the  dictate  of 
an  Immanent  Genius  or  the  Incarnation  of  the  Absolute.  These  doctrines, 
as  a  matter  of  fact,  are  not  confined  merely  to  propaganda  ministries  or 
to  such  productions  as  Mein  Kampf,  the  speeches  of  Mussolini,  and  the 
decrees  of  the  Kremlin.  From  quarters  above  all  suspicion  of  sympathy 
with  dictatorship  there  have  come  quite  recently  pronouncements  strangely 
in  tune  with  the  anti-deterministic  view  of  culture — anthropological 
theories  declaring  that  there  can  be  no  genuine  science  of  culture. 

Listen  to  the  venerable  leader  and  veteran  of  American  anthropology, 
Professor  Franz  Boas.  In  an  apparently  definite  statement  of  his  position 
which  is  also  his  imprimatur  on  a  strange  book  by  Dr.  Ruth  Benedict,^ 
he  tells  us  that  the  ultimate  task  of  the  anthropologist  consists  in  "a  deep 
penetration  into  the  genius  of  the  culture."  He  follows  this  up  by  telling 
us  that  in  a  survey  of  diverse  cultures  we  find  that  "they  are  permeated 
each  by  one  dominating  idea."  But  whose  idea  is  it  by  which  a  culture 
is  dominated?  No  doubt  the  idea  of  the  "genius  of  the  culture."  We  are 
dangerously  near  to  the  conception  of  Volksgeist  or  Volksseele,  the  im- 
maculate tribal  genius  of  the  German  people,  with  the  Jewish  grand- 
mother strictly  ruled  out.  For  it  is  the  preservation  of  the  purity  of  race 
and  of  its  cultural  genius  on  which  the  modern  prophets  of  the  Third 
Reich  are  building  a  "pure  culture." 

Professor  Boas's  attitude  tov/ards  Hitlerism  is  exactly  the  same  as  mine, 
and  his  own  work  in  anthropology  is  classically  scientific.  Yet  in  a  mo- 
ment of  methodological  absent-mindedness  he  seems  to  forget  that  the 
only  salvation  for  social  science  is  to  become  a  real  science,  that  is,  to 
part  company  with  "tribal  geniuses,"  "pervading  spirits  of  culture,"  and 
all  such  hypostases  which  are  merely  a  short  cut  away  from  the  legitimate 
task — a  search  for  general  laws.  Indeed  he  tells  us  that  "the  relations 
between  different  aspects  of  culture  follow  the  most  diverse  patterns  and 
do  not  lend  themselves  profitably  to  generalizations."  No  generalizations, 
no  universally  valid  laws,  no  science  of  culture.  I  have  also  to  disagree 
fundamentally  with  Professor  Boas  when  he  light-heartedly  defines  other 
cultures  as  "abnormal":  in  stating  that  the  more  we  know  of  cultural 
drives,  "the  more  we  shall  find  that  certain  controls  of  emotion,  certain 
ideals  of  conduct,  prevail  that  account  for  what  seem  to  us  as  abnormal 
attitudes  when  viewed  from  the  standpoint  of  our  own  civilization.  The 
relativity  of  what  is  considered  social  or  asocial,  normal  or  abnormal,  is 
seen  in  a  new  light."  ^ 

In  my  opinion  this  is  not  the  right  way  to  put  anthropology  on  a  sci- 
entific basis.  The  apparently  most  heterogeneous  diversities  must  be  re- 
duced to  common  factors,  for  there  is  a  common  measure  of  all  culture 
process  and  culture  configuration.  To  deny  this,  as  is  done  by  Dr.  Ruth 

^Patterns  of  Culture,  1935. 
^  Op.  cit.,  pp.  xii  and  xiii. 



Benedict  in  her  book  sponsored  by  Professor  Boas,  is  to  condemn  the 
quest  of  scientific  anthropology  from  the  very  beginning.  In  a  comparative 
examination  of  several  cultures  she  affirms  that  they  are  "heterogeneous 
assortments  of  acts  and  beliefs."  She  tells  us  that  "they  differ  from  one 
another  not  only  because  one  trait  is  present  here  and  absent  there,  and 
because  another  trait  is  found  in  two  regions  in  two  different  forms. 
They  differ  still  more  because  they  are  orientated  as  wholes  in  different  di- 
rections. They  are  travelling  along  different  roads  in  pursuit  of  different 
ends,  and  these  ends  and  these  means  in  one  society  cannot  be  judged  in 
terms  of  those  of  another  society,  because  essentially  they  are  incommen- 
surable." ^ 

The  anthropologist,  therefore,  has  to  take  his  staff  and  walk  with  one 
"tribal  genius"  to  its  ultimate  goal  and  discuss  with  this  "tribal  genius" 
the  ends  and  aims  of  its  pilgrimage.  By  some  miraculous  and  prophetic  in- 
tuition the  anthropologist  has  to  apprehend  each  orientation  as  a  specific, 
incomparable  reality. 

The  results  carried  out  on  this  program  of  genius-hunting  and  em- 
pathy with  collective  spirits  are  what  might  be  expected.  After  long  and 
laborious  analyses,  we  are  told  by  Dr.  Ruth  Benedict  that  one  culture  is 
Apollonian,  the  other  Dionysiac,  that  one  tribal  genius  suffers  from  meg- 
alomania, and  another  from  paranoia.  There  are  cultures  which  are  "in- 
corrigibly mild,"  others  "ruthlessly  aggressive,"  yet  others  "superbly  self- 
satisfied."  I  could  quote  from  other  writers  who  affirm  that  culture  can 
only  be  understood  as  a  form  of  "collective  hysteria,"  while  others  speak 
about  "mascuhne  cultures"  or  cultures  "oriented  away  from  the  self," 
about  races  who  are  "introvert"  or  "extrovert,"  or  define  a  culture  as 
"maternal  in  its  parental  aspects  and  feminine  in  its  sexual  aspects." 

All  such  theories  reduce  anthropology  to  a  purely  subjective  interpreta- 
tion of  each  culture  in  terms  of  figurative  speech,  of  pathological  simile,  of 
mythological  parallel,  and  other  more  or  less  literary  or  artistic  ways  of  in- 
tuition. There  is  no  room  left  for  the  scientific  analysis. 

I  had  to  enter  the  protest  with  some  emphasis,  because  the  new  tendency 
threatens  to  dominate  the  growing  generation  of  anthropologists  both  in 
the  United  States  and  in  this  country.  Livelier  journalism  has  already 
hailed  Dr.  Ruth  Benedict  and  her  associates  as  the  prophets  of  a  new 
vision  in  humanism.  The  tendency  is  so  facile  and  attractive,  yet  so  en- 
tirely sterile  in  my  opinion,  that  no  warning  could  be  too  strong.  Many 
of  the  younger  generation  are  drifting  into  mystical  pronouncements, 
avoiding  the  difficult  and  painstaking  search  for  principles;  they  are  cul- 
tivating rapid  cursory  field-work,  and  developing  their  impressionistic 
results  into  brilliantly  dramatized  film  effects,  such  as  the  New  Guinea 
pictures  of  Dr.  Margaret  Mead  in  her  Sex  and  Temperament  (1935). 

'  Op.  cit.,  p.  223. 



There  is  diversity  in  human  culture,  thank  heaven!  Empathy  into  "na- 
tional characteristics"  or  "racial  genius"  is  an  attractive  artistic  pursuit. 

Oh,  East  is  East,  and  West  is  West,  and  never  the  twain  shall  meet, 
Till  Earth  and  Sky  stand  presently  at  God's  great  Judgment  Seat.  .  .  . 

But  even  when  it  comes  to  art,  continue  to  read  Kipling's  poem  and  you 
will  find  that  when  it  is  a  question  of  a  relevant  pursuit  such  as  horse- 
stealing or  cattle-lifting,  robbery  or  war,  then  East  meets  West  on  an 
equal  footing.  The  story  of  Kim,  and  the  Anglo-Indian  short  stories, 
where  East  comes  to  grips  with  West  and  the  two  vie  with  each  other 
in  love  and  hate,  in  fights  and  adventures,  all  demonstrate  one  truth — the 
poet  and  anthropologist  Kipling  always  divines  the  common  measure  of 
humanity-at-one.  The  artistic  creation  of  Kim  alone  shows  the  road  to 
the  correct  treatment  of  empathy  and  intuition,  for  Kim  is  both  a  West- 
erner and  an  Indian,  and  in  all  his  exploits  he  moves  along  the  line  of  com- 
mon measure. 

The  private,  personal  drive  of  every  anthropologist  is  often  to  be 
found  in  his  love  of  the  exotic,  in  his  insatiable  hunger  for  the  taste  of 
strange  customs  and  picturesque  costumes,  for  the  flavor  of  new  tongues 
and  the  new  language  of  ideas  and  emotions.  But  from  the  very  fact  that 
a  European  can  sometimes  assume  the  outlook  and  temporarily  even  adopt 
the  ways  of  a  stone-age  Melanesian  or  an  African  nomad,  an  Indian  or  a 
Chinaman,  proves  that  there  is  a  common  measure  in  even  the  intuitive 
aspects  of  culture.  And  when  it  comes  to  scientific  analysis,  it  is  necessary 
to  lay  the  rule  hard  and  fast,  absolute  and  rigid,  that  to  go  beyond  the 
search  for  the  common  measure  is  to  flounder  into  the  non-scientific.  The 
artist  may  be  there  too,  in  the  make-up  of  a  field-worker,  or  of  an  anthro- 
pological theorist,  but  he  must  not  confuse  his  aesthetic  task  with  his  sci- 
entific problems. 

On  the  positive  side,  therefore,  the  arguments  which  follow  are  an  at- 
tempt to  establish  that  there  can  be  a  genuine  science  of  culture;  that  gen- 
eral principles  and  universally  valid  concepts  are  not  only  necessary,  but 
indispensable;  and  that  the  analysis  of  human  cultures  can  be  carried  out 
in  the  same  spirit — both  empirical  and  strictly  conforming  to  logic — 
— which  is  the  only  way  of  dealing  with  problems  of  physics,  biology,  and 
anthropology  as  well. 

"Culture  as  a  determinant  of  human  behavior" — I  read  this  title  as  an 
injunction  to  prove  that  there  exists  a  science  of  human  behavior,  which 
is  the  science  of  culture.  Culture,  in  fact,  is  nothing  but  the  organized 
behavior  of  man.  Man  differs  from  the  animals  in  that  he  has  to  rely  on 
an  artificially  fashioned  environment:  on  implements,  weapons,  dwellings, 
and  man-made  means  of  transport.  To  produce  and  to  manage  this  body 
of  artifacts  and  commodities,  he  requires  knowledge  and  technique.  He 


depends  on  the  help  of  his  fellow-beings.  This  means  that  he  has  to  live 
in  organized,  well-ordered  communities.  Of  all  the  animals  he  alone  merits 
the  tripartite  title  of  homo  faber,  zoom  politikon,  homo  sapiens. 

All  this  artificial  equipment  of  man,  material,  spiritual,  and  social,  we 
call  technically  culture.  It  is  a  large-scale  molding  matrix;  a  gigantic 
conditioning  apparatus.  In  each  generation  it  produces  its  type  of  individ- 
ual. In  each  generation  it  is  in  turn  reshaped  by  its  carriers. 

Is  this  big  entity  itself  subject  to  laws  of  a  scientific  character?  I  for 
one  have  no  hestitation  in  answering  this  question  in  the  affirmative.  Cul- 
ture is  a  determinant  of  human  behavior,  and  culture  as  a  dynamic  reaUty 
is  also  subject  to  determinism.  There  exist  scientific  laws  of  culture. 

The  possibility  of  a  really  scientific  approach  to  humanism  and  anthro- 
pology is  still  contested.  It  is  not  superfluous,  therefore,  to  reaffirm  the 
existence  of  determinism  in  the  study  of  human  culture. 

In  my  opinion  the  principal  ailment  of  all  humanism  is  the  disjunction 
of  empirical  approach  from  theory,  of  methods  of  observation  from  specu- 
lative doctrine.  It  will  be  best,  therefore,  first  to  turn  to  the  testimony 
of  cultural  fact  itself.  It  is  easiest  to  grasp  the  essence  of  a  phenomenon 
in  contemplating  its  manifestations  through  a  wide  range  of  variation.  Let 
us  then  make  a  rapid  flight  over  the  globe  and  obtain  bird's-eye  views  of 
some  highly  divergent  types  of  human  culture. 

The  culture  of  a  nomad  tribe 

Let  us  descend  first  on  the  arid  and  dusty  steppes  of  central  East  Africa 
inhabited  by  the  Masai,  the  famous  fierce  warriors  of  the  region.  On 
approaching  the  native  encampment  we  are  met  by  a  group  of  men,  tall, 
dignified,  armed  with  iron  spears  and  daggers.  Their  women,  svelte  and 
elegant,  startle  the  newcomer  with  the  glitter  and  rattle  of  the  wrought- 
iron  ornaments  encircling  their  necks,  wrists,  and  ankles.  Both  sexes  still 
wear  the  native  robes  of  soft  goat-  or  sheepskin.  Not  a  shred  of  calico  nor 
European  trinket  mars  the  archaic  vision  of  men  and  women  of  Africa 
as  they  lead  us  into  the  ring  of  low  brown  huts,  made  of  thatch,  plastered 
with  cow-dung,  and  enclosed  with  a  stout  fence  of  prickly  shrub. 

Conservative  in  his  material  culture,  the  Masai  still  clings  also  to  his 
old  tribal  ways.  He  still  remains  at  heart  a  gentleman  robber,  herdsman, 
cattle-lifter,  and  warrior.  When,  after  years  of  drought,  starvation 
threatens  the  Masai  among  their  pestilence-stricken  herds,  how  can  they 
help  using  force,  in  which  they  have  been  trained  through  generations, 
against  their  fat  and  flabby  neighbors  grown  weak  in  their  wealth  and 
security?  Their  whole  social  organization — age-grades,  mutilations  and 
tests  of  endurance,  and  military  drill — is  tuned  up  to  the  development 
of  warlike  virtues.  The  Masai  warrior — that  is,  every  man  between 
puberty  and  marriage — Hves  in  a  special  camp,  devoting  all  his  time  to 
the  aristocratic  arts  of  doing  nothing  and  preparing  for  war.  He  is 



governed  by  a  democratic  regime  in  which  an  elected  captain  administers 
law  and  leads  the  men  into  battle. 

Agriculture  they  despise,  vegetables  being  food  fit  only  for  women. 
As  a  Masai  warrior  put  it  to  me  in  a  convincing  argument:  "The  earth 
is  our  Mother.  She  gives  us  all  the  milk  we  need,  and  feeds  our  cattle. 
It  is  wrong  to  cut  or  scratch  her  body" — a  confirmation  of  the  psycho- 
analyst's conception  of  Mother-Earth,  by  one  who  had  not  studied  the 
works  of  Professor  Freud  yet! 

As  to  sex  morals,  they  leave  entire  freedom  to  immature  girls,  who 
consort  with  the  warriors  in  their  camp.  At  puberty  every  woman  has  to 
undergo  a  drastic  operation,  clitoridectomy,  which  constitutes  their 
marriage  rite. 

The  whole  tribe  owe  allegiance  to  the  OlHoibon,  the  hereditary  rain 
magician  and  prophet.  He  controls  them  through  his  gift  of  divination 
and  his  power  of  producing  magical  fertility  of  land  and  of  women. 

How  can  we  press  this  strange,  exotic  material,  as  rich  and  varied  and 
elusive  as  life  itself,  into  a  scientific  scheme?  The  temptation  to  stop 
at  artistic  impressionism  is  great.  We  might  well  feel  that  it  would  be 
best  to  paint  the  war-like  Masai  in  exaggerated  colors  in  order  to  bring 
out  the  martial,  boisterous,  licentious  "genius"  of  this  culture. 

Indeed,  this  type  of  procedure  is  the  latest  fashion  in  anthropology. 
Since,  however,  we  are  in  search  of  a  scientific,  that  is,  deterministic 
approach,  let  us  inquire  into  what  are  the  main  interests  of  the  natives,  the 
pivotal  points  of  their  tribal  life.  We  see  at  once  that  their  interests  center 
around  food,  sex,  defense,  and  aggression.  Divination  and  prophecy,  and 
their  pohtical  influence,  are  related  to  their  military  adventures  and  the 
vicissitudes  of  climate.  The  age-grades  are  an  occupational  organization 
correlated  with  their  military  life;  they  form  an  educational  system  in 
which  tribal  knowledge  is  imparted,  discipline  and  endurance  inculcated. 

Thus  culture,  as  we  find  it  among  the  Masai,  is  an  apparatus  for  the 
satisfaction  of  the  elementary  needs  of  the  human  organism.  But  under 
conditions  of  culture  these  needs  are  satisfied  by  roundabout  methods. 
The  Masai  cannot  turn  to  nature  directly  in  order  to  nourish  himself. 
In  the  long  development  of  his  tribal  culture,  the  institution  of  pastoral- 
ism  has  come  into  being.  The  tending,  breeding,  exchange,  and  ownership 
of  cattle,  incidentally  also  the  need  of  its  defense  and  protection,  impose 
derived  or  secondary  imperatives  on  the  life  of  the  Masai:  the  cattle 
kraal,  military  camps,  seasonal  migrations,  and  fertiUty  magic  are  the 
outcome  and  correlates  of  pastoralism. 

The  continuity  of  the  race  equally  does  not  work  by  physiological 
determination  alone.  Sexual  appetite  and  personal  attraction,  the  urge  to 
mate,  and  the  desire  for  children  are  reformulated  culturally.  Each  phase 
of  the  biological  process — maturation,  puberty,  courtship,  marriage,  and 
parenthood — is  correlated  with  the  mode  of  life  and  the  arrangements  of 



domesticity  and  bachelors'  camp;  and  the  whole  is  safeguarded  by  the 
military  organization.  The  vast  phenomenon  of  kinship,  including  the 
family,  marriage,  clanship,  and  the  laws  of  descent,  is  the  cultural  counter- 
part of  the  physiological  process  of  reproduction. 

The  needs  of  man  and  the  aspects  of  ctdture 

Let  us  see  what  the  conditions  are  in  a  neighboring  tribe.  Not  far  from 
the  Masai  steppes,  on  the  slopes  of  the  Kilimanjaro,  the  highest  mountain 
in  Africa,  live  the  Chagga,  an  agricultural,  sedentary  people.  The  Chagga, 
though  he  also  keeps  and  appreciates  cattle,  is  mainly  a  tiller  of  the  soil. 
Yams  and  pumpkins,  peas  and  millet  thrive  well  on  the  fertile  green  fields 
of  the  Kilimanjaro.  The  staple  food,  however,  is  the  banana.  As  the 
Masai  culture  has  been  labeled  "cattle-complex,"  so  the  Chagga  culture 
could  certainly  be  defined  as  a  banana  obsession.  The  Chagga  lives  on 
bananas;  he  lives  among  bananas — every  homestead  must  be  surrounded 
by  its  banana  grove;  and  when  he  is  dead  he  is  buried  amid  bananas. 

In  contrast  to  the  nomadic  Masai,  the  Chagga  have  a  highly  developed 
body  of  land  laws.  Their  large-scale  system  of  irrigation  is  a  feat  of 
engineering  unparalleled  anywhere  in  native  Africa  south  of  the  Sahara. 
Again,  unlike  the  democratic  Masai,  the  Chagga  have  a  well-developed 
chieftainship.  In  each  district  the  chief  is  the  supreme  judge,  the  source 
of  law,  the  military  leader,  and  the  high  priest  of  tribal  ancestor-worship. 
The  centralized  power  of  the  Chagga,  however,  is  not  based  on  aggressive 
militarism.  They  have  a  highly  developed  system  of  defense,  with  exten- 
sive, well-guarded  earthworks  along  the  frontiers,  and  enormous  subter- 
ranean chambers  where  men,  women,  and  cattle  are  able  to  take  refuge 
during  a  Masai  raid. 

The  Chagga  differ  from  their  neighbors,  the  Masai:  they  practice 
agriculture,  live  in  fixed  settlements,  have  a  developed  system  of  land 
tenure;  and  their  religion  consists  mainly  in  ancestor- worship.  They 
resemble  the  Masai  in  that  they  practice  female  circumcision,  they  have 
developed  age-grades,  and  they  believe  in  magic  by  divination.  What  is 
the  best  way  of  establishing  a  common  measure  for  the  scientific  compari- 
son of  differences  and  also  of  similarities? 

Clearly,  again,  we  must  compare  their  institutions — that  is,  the  organ- 
ized systems  of  activities,  each  correlated  with  a  fundamental  need.  In 
both  tribes  we  find  that  to  nutrition  there  corresponds  the  economic 
system,  dominated  among  the  Chagga  by  agriculture,  among  the  Masai 
by  cattle-breeding.  In  both  cultures  we  should  have  to  analyze  the 
economic  system  by  means  of  such  universally  valid  concepts  as  the 
organization  of  production,  the  methods  of  distribution,  and  the  manner 
in  which  consumption  integrates  certain  groups  of  people.  Among  both 
we  should  have  to  consider  the  physiological  process  of  reproduction  as  it 
is  organized  into  the  domestic  institutions.  The  physiological  growth  of 



the  individual  is  in  both  cases  institutionahzed  into  the  system  of  age- 
grades.  PoHtical  organization  comes  into  being  in  the  satisfaction  of  the 
need  for  safety  in  the  case  of  the  Chagga;  in  the  case  of  the  Masai  the 
mihtary  organization  and  the  poHtical  system  are  the  outcome  of  a  periodic 
need  for  predatory  economics.  In  both  tribes  there  are,  again,  correspond- 
ing organizations  for  the  maintenance  of  internal  law  and  order.  The 
political  system,  in  its  military  and  legal  aspects  alike,  imposes  its  own 
discipline,  morale,  ideals,  and  economic  requirements. 

The  transmission  of  the  cultural  heritage  from  one  generation  to 
another  brings  into  being  the  two  educational  systems  of  the  Chagga  and 
Masai.  In  both  tribes  the  earlier  stages  of  training  are  bound  up  with 
domestic  life,  while  later  on  the  initiations  into  age-grades  carry  on  the 
education  in  tribal  custom  and  morality. 

From  the  comparison  of  the  two  cultures  we  reach  one  of  our  pivotal 
generalizations.  Every  culture  must  be  analyzed  into  the  following 
aspects:  economics,  politics,  the  mechanism  of  law  and  custom,  education, 
magic  and  religion,  recreation,  traditional  knowledge,  technology,  and 
art.  And  all  human  cultures  can  be  compared  under  the  headings  of  this 

Far  from  the  chaotic,  indeterministic  defeatism  which  overwhelms  the 
amateur,  and  apparently  even  some  professional  anthropologists,  this 
approach  gives  us  a  solid  scientific  foundation. 

Incidentally,  we  also  arrive  at  another  conclusion.  Anthropology,  the 
science  of  culture,  must  study  the  same  subjects  as  those  which  confront 
the  student  of  contemporary  civilization,  or  of  any  other  period  in  human 
history.  It  must  approach  primitive  culture  from  the  angle  of  politics  and 
economics,  theory  of  religion,  and  jurisprudence.  And  here  anthropology 
may  claim  a  special  position  among  the  other  sciences  of  human  society 
and  culture. 

Its  range  is  the  widest;  it  relies  entirely  on  direct  observation,  for  its 
sources  are  in  the  student's  own  field.  It  is  perhaps  the  only  social  science 
which  can  easily  remain  detached  from  political  bias,  nationalist  prejudice, 
sentiment,  or  doctrinaire  zeal.  If  this  social  science  fails  to  develop  an 
entirely  dispassionate  study  of  its  material,  there  is  not  much  hope  for  the 
other  branches  of  humanism.  Hence,  in  vindicating  the  scientific  char- 
acter of  anthropology  we  are  working  at  the  very  foundations  of  social 
science.  Anthropology  has  the  privilege  and  the  duty  of  acting  as  an 
organizing  agency  in  the  comparative  study  of  cultures. 

Adaptation  to  environment  and  diseases  of  culture 

In  order  to  appreciate  the  influence  of  environment  upon  culture,  let  us 
leave  tropical  Africa  and  move  into  the  desert  of  snow,  ice,  and  rock 
inhabited  by  the  Eskimos.  Their  winter  house,  made  of  stone  or  of  snow, 
has  been  described  as  a  marvel  of  engineering,  a  perfect  adaptation  to 



climate  and  to  the  available  material.  It  certainly  is  an  example  of 
thoroughgoing  correlation  between  a  material  object  and  the  necessities 
of  life.  Combining  warmth,  space,  and  ventilation,  it  provides  during  the 
long  winter  night  comfortable  places  in  which  to  lie  and  listen  to  the 
long  tales  of  folklore,  or  carry  on  technical  activities.  The  technological 
excellence  of  these  natives  is  also  shown  in  the  construction  of  their 
sledges  and  their  weapons,  of  their  canoes,  and  of  their  traps. 

In  comparison  with  this,  some  aspects  of  their  culture  seem  under- 
developed. The  Eskimos  have  been  described  as  devoid  of  any  political 
system  or  of  legal  institutions.  They  have  been  often  accused  of  extreme 
pacifism  in  that  they  do  not  slaughter  each  other  in  organized  fighting. 
Yet  this  is  perhaps  not  quite  correct.  For  though  they  have  no  political 
chieftainship,  they  recognize  the  authority  of  the  Shaman.  He  also  acts 
in  a  roundabout  way  as  an  important  juridical  agency.  They  have  their 
code  of  law,  consisting  of  many  taboos,  the  breach  of  which  brings  down 
evil  not  only  on  the  wrongdoer  but  on  the  whole  community.  Tribal 
calamity  can  be  averted  only  by  public  confession.  After  that  the  Shaman 
can  magically  re-establish  tribal  prosperity.  Thus,  as  the  Masai  have  antici- 
pated psychoanalysis,  so  the  Eskimos  are  the  forerunners  of  the  Oxford 
Group  movement. 

On  the  other  hand,  toward  sex  they  have  the  same  attitude  as  the 
Masai.  They  have  also  a  somewhat  similar  type  of  political  system,  always 
with  the  exception  that  the  one  are  extremely  warlike,  and  the  others 
have  never  heard  of  fighting. 

Our  approach  to  a  scientific  study  of  culture,  through  the  various 
aspects  which  correspond  to  the  fundamental  and  derived  needs  of  man, 
does  not  break  down  even  here,  when  we  apply  it  to  such  a  one-sided,  in 
many  ways  stunted,  and  in  other  ways  hypertrophied,  culture  as  that 
of  the  Esk  imos.  For  the  Eskimos  eat  and  reproduce,  maintain  themselves 
secure  against  weather  and  animals,  have  developed  means  of  movement 
in  space,  and  they  also  regulate  the  bodily  development  of  the  individual. 
Their  culture  consists,  hke  all  others,  of  the  cardinal  aspects:  economics, 
education,  law,  poUtics,  magic  and  religion,  knowledge,  crafts,  art,  and 
also  recreation. 

What  about  war?  Some  divisions  of  the  Eskimos  have  a  minimum  of 
military  organization.  Others  are  completely  ignorant  of  fighting.  Since 
the  polar  and  central  Eskimos  have  no  neighbors,  nor  yet  any  cause  for 
internal  quarrels  and  dissensions,  they  cannot  have  military  institutions. 
This  fact  confirms  our  conception  of  the  instrumental  nature  of  organ- 
ized activities.  Where,  as  in  their  westernmost  offshoots,  the  Eskimos  are 
in  contact  with  warlike  Indian  tribes,  they  have  developed  the  organiza- 
tion, the  virtues,  and  the  apparatus  of  war. 

In  the  study  of  war,  as  of  any  other  aspect  of  culture,  the  strict 
application  of  scientific  determinism  is  necessary.  This  is  achieved  by 



clear  definitions,  empirical  concepts,  and  inductive  generalization.  All  the 
wrangles  as  to  the  innate  pacifism  or  aggressiveness  of  primitive  man  are 
based  on  the  use  of  words  without  definition.  To  label  all  brawling, 
squabbling,  dealing  out  of  black  eye  or  broken  jaw,  war,  as  is  frequently 
done,  leads  simply  to  confusion.  One  author  tells  us  then  that  primitive 
man  is  a  natural  pacifist.  Another  has  recently  described  war  as  indispen- 
sable for  the  survival  of  the  fittest.  Yet  another  maintains  that  war  is 
the  main  creative,  beneficent,  and  constructive  factor  in  the  history  of 
mankind.  But  war  can  only  be  defined  as  the  use  of  organized  force 
between  two  politically  independent  units,  in  the  pursuit  of  a  tribal 
policy.  War  in  this  sense  enters  fairly  late  into  the  development  of  human 

Only  with  the  formation  of  independent  political  units,  where  military 
force  is  maintained  as  a  means  of  tribal  policy,  does  war  contribute 
through  the  historical  fact  of  conquest  to  the  building  up  of  cultures 
and  the  establishment  of  states.  In  my  opinion,  we  have  just  left  this 
stage  of  human  history  behind,  and  modern  warfare  has  become  nothing 
but  an  unmitigated  disease  of  civilization. 

I  have  made  this  brief  digression  on  warfare  because  it  illustrates  one 
side  of  the  scientific  or  functional  method  in  cultural  analysis.  This  method 
is  often  accused  of  overemphasizing  the  perfect  integration  of  all  factors 
within  the  working  whole  of  culture.  This  is  a  misrepresentation.  The 
functional  method  only  insists  on  the  fact  that  all  the  elements  of  culture 
are  related  to  each  other;  they  are  not  idle  survivals  or  disconnected  traits, 
but  they  function — that  is,  they  are  at  work.  It  does  not  pronounce  any 
appreciation  or  moral  comment  as  to  whether  this  work  is  good  or  evil, 
well  or  badly  adjusted.  As  in  the  case  of  some  primitive  types  of  warfare, 
and  certainly  of  its  most  recent  developments,  the  instrumental  analysis 
of  culture  reveals  more  cogently  than  dissection  into  traits  the  occurrence 
of  catastrophic  maladjustments  of  human  society. 

As  you  have  noticed  just  now,  and  felt,  perhaps,  throughout  the  argu- 
ment of  this  lecture,  there  has  been  a  background  of  critical  indictment 
running  right  through.  I  do  not  want  to  waste  your  time  with  controversy 
and  polemics.  At  the  same  time,  I  do  not  want  you  to  feel  that  we  are 
running  in  open  doors  in  insisting  on  an  objective,  sober,  empirical,  and 
non-mystical  treatment  of  culture.  We  are  engaged  now  in  laying  down 
the  foundations  for  a  sound  method  in  social  science.  When  these  are 
clearly  and  simply  stated,  they  have  a  knack  of  appearing  mere  truisms. 
Science  in  the  long  run  is  nothing  but  common  sense  and  experience  built 
up  on  a  systematic  basis,  refined  and  clarified  to  the  utmost  limits  of 
conceptual  lucidity.  So,  briefly:  I  have  been  insisting  that  anthropological 
theory  must  be  objective,  which  means  aboveboard,  and  presented  in  a 
manner  amenable  to  verification.  Why?  Because  some  of  the  leaders  of 
contemporary  anthropology  still  maintain  that  there  is  a  subjective  factor 



in  all  humanistic  observation.  To  quote  an  eminent  scholar:  "All  historical 
definitions  are  in  their  very  essence  subjective." 

I  have  been  driving  in  the  existence  of  a  measure  common  to  all  com- 
parative work  in  anthropology — the  existence,  that  is,  of  a  general  scheme 
of  human  culture,  universally  vaHd.  Why?  Because  it  has  been  stated  in 
so  many  words  that  "no  common  measure  of  cultural  phenomena  can 
be  found,"  and  that  "the  laws  of  cultural  process  are  vague,  insipid  and 

I  have  again  and  again  indicated  that  it  is  illegitimate  to  cover  our 
inability  to  deal  with  certain  facts  by  such  mystic  labels  as  the  "genius 
of  culture,"  or  to  describe  this  "genius"  as  Apollonian,  Dionysiac,  megalo- 
maniac, or  hysterical.  "Why?  Because  all  these  atrocities  have  been  recently 
committed.  Culture  has  been  described  as  the  "collective  hysteria"  of 
society.  We  have  had  recently  a  whole  rainbow  of  colorful  tags  and 
epithets  tied  to  the  neck  of  each  individual  culture. 

I  have  insisted  that  analysis  must  not  be  arbitrary;  that  the  dissection 
of  a  culture,  even  as  that  of  a  corpse,  must  obey  the  laws  of  its  anatomy, 
and  not  become  mere  butchery,  a  lifting  out  of  "traits"  and  the  lumping 
of  them  into  haphazard  "trait  complexes."  Why?  Because  the  most 
powerful  school  in  anthropology  still  follows  the  precepts  of  Graebner, 
who  would  have  us  isolate  "traits"  and  define  them  by  characteristics  not 
founded  in  the  nature  of  the  object  or  the  material.  One  of  the  leading 
American  anthropologists  tells  us  that  an  agglomeration  of  such  traits 
into  a  complex  "is  historically  most  convincing  when  the  traits  are  not 
related  to  one  another."  To  regard  culture  as  a  jumble  of  disconnected 
and  unrelated  details  may  lead  to  amusing  reconstructions  but  of  doubtful 
value.  In  the  process,  however,  it  robs  our  whole  concept  of  culture  of 
all  life  and  significance. 

The  family  as  the  cornerstone  of  social  structure 

But  let  us  leave  aside  this  controversial  mood.  To  make  our  point  clear, 
let  us  concentrate  on  an  object — the  object  of  objects,  in  a  way — the 
material  embodiment  of  the  premier  institution  of  mankind,  the  family. 
We  shall  choose  our  example  from  yet  another  ethnographic  area  and 
contemplate  a  pile  dwelling  in  Melanesia. 

In  sharp  contrast  to  the  arid  steppes  of  central  Africa  and  the  Arctic 
desert  of  snow,  we  are  surrounded  here  by  a  wilderness  of  water,  coral 
reef,  and  swamp.  The  main  symptom  of  man's  adaptation  to  his  sur- 
roundings is  a  remarkable  achievement  of  primitive  architecture,  the 
house  on  piles.  It  stands  firmly  on  its  foundations  of  stout  tree-trunks 
driven  deep  into  the  muddy  bottom  of  the  lagoon.  Constructed  of  strong 
material  cunningly  fitted  and  lashed  together,  it  resists  the  combined 
attacks  of  wind,  waves,  and  weather. 



To  the  lagoon  dweller  such  a  house  is  a  fortress  where  he  can  take 
refuge  and  which  he  can  defend.  It  is  a  watch-tower  from  which  he  can 
see  the  approach  of  suspicious  strangers.  It  is  also  conveniently  near  to 
the  coast  which  he  frequently  has  to  visit  in  order  to  tend  his  gardens. 
The  structure  of  the  house  is  thus  determined  by  the  inter-tribal  relations 
of  the  people,  their  economic  pursuits,  by  climate  and  natural  environ- 

It  can  thus  be  studied  only  within  its  natural  setting.  But  after  man 
has  invented,  constructed,  and  improved  his  dwelling,  and  made  it  into 
a  fortress,  an  economic  asset,  and  a  comfortable  home,  the  house  then 
dominates  his  whole  mode  of  life.  The  outer  shell  of  his  domesticity  in- 
fluences the  social  structure  of  family  and  kinship. 

Indeed,  it  seems  that  the  higher  the  cultural  development,  the  more 
ruthless  and  brutal  becomes  the  tyranny  of  machine  over  man.  Are  we 
not  at  present  hopelessly  enslaved  by  our  hypertrophied  prosperity  which 
we  have  not  yet  learned  to  manage;  by  our  rapid  means  of  communication 
which  allow  us  to  speed,  but  too  often  to  speed  but  aimlessly?  And  last, 
not  least,  and  worst  of  all,  by  our  excessive  efficiency  in  the  means  of 
collective  destruction?  Once  more  a  humanist  may  be  allowed  to  reflect 
on  the  fact  that  the  overdevelopment  of  mechanical  science  and  its 
applications  have  completely  outgrown  the  progress  of  our  knowledge  of 
how  to  adjust  our  efficiency  to  really  human  aims  and  needs. 

Since  in  my  opinion  anthropology  should  begin  at  home,  let  me  give 
you  an  anthropological  impression  of  modern  culture  and  recount  a 
personal  experience  in  which  I  very  poignantly  became  aware  of  the  power 
of  things  over  man. 

No  experience  in  my  exotic  wanderings  among  the  Trobrianders  and 
the  Chagga,  among  the  Masai  and  the  Pueblo,  has  ever  matched  the  shock 
I  received  in  my  first  contact  with  American  civilization  on  my  first  visit 
to  New  York,  when  I  arrived  there  ten  years  ago  on  a  fine  spring  evening, 
and  saw  the  city  in  its  strangeness  and  exotic  beauty.  The  enormous  yet 
elegant  monsters  blinking  at  me  through  their  thousand  starry  eyes, 
breathing  white  steam,  giants  which  crowded  in  fantastic  clusters  over 
the  smooth  waters  of  the  river,  stood  before  me:  the  living,  dominating 
realities  of  this  new  culture.  During  my  first  few  days  in  New  York  I 
could  not  shake  off  the  feeling  that  the  strange  "genius"  of  this  most 
modern  civilization  had  become  incarnate  in  the  skyscraper,  the  subway, 
and  the  ferry  boat.  Large  insects  in  the  shape  of  automobiles  crept  along 
the  gutter  called  street  or  avenue,  subordinate  but  important.  Finally,  as 
a  fairly  insignificant  and  secondary  by-product  of  the  enormous  mechani- 
cal reality,  there  appeared  the  microscopic  bacteria  called  Man,  sneaking 
in  and  out  of  subway,  skyscraper,  or  automobile,  performing  some  useful 
service  to  their  masters,  but  otherwise  rather  insignificant.  Modern  civiH- 



zation  is  a  gigantic  hypertrophy  of  material  objects,  and  contemporary 
man  will  still  have  to  fight  his  battle  in  order  to  reassert  his  dominance 
over  the  Thing. 

But  what  interests  us  at  present  is  to  find  the  existence  of  a  common 
measure  between  the  residential  part  of  the  skyscraper  and  snowhouse,  pile- 
dweUing  and  cow-dung  hut. 

In  the  material  used,  in  structure,  in  architecture,  in  all,  that  is,  which 
we  can  call  the  form  of  the  object,  there  is  hardly  one  trait  in  common. 
But  look  at  the  dweHing  as  a  part  of  an  institution.  It  appears  at  once 
that  the  principles  on  which  each  dwelling  is  integrated  into  organized 
human  life  and  becomes  the  shell  of  this  Kfe  are  the  same  throughout 
humanity.  In  the  penthouse  on  top  of  the  skyscraper,  in  the  snow  igloo, 
in  the  engadji  of  cow  dung,  in  the  niyumba  of  thatch,  we  find  the  same 
domestic  unit,  the  family,  consisting  of  father,  mother,  and  children. 

Is  the  resemblance  only  superficial?  No.  Functionally  it  is  not  merely 
a  resemblance,  but  an  identity.  The  group  is  united  by  the  same  task,  the 
essential  business  of  reproducing  the  race.  A  universal  type  of  legal 
charter  gives  juridical  validity  to  the  group.  The  act  of  marriage  bestows 
legitimacy  on  the  children,  grants  the  consorts  mutual  privileges  and 
duties,  defines  the  domestic  work  of  husband  and  wife;  above  all,  it  im- 
poses on  them  the  duty  of  looking  conjointly  after  the  children.  Human 
parents,  unlike  animals,  are  not  allowed  merely  to  throw  up  fresh 
organisms,  but  they  have  to  introduce  fully  fledged  citizens  into  the 

Another  fundamental  difference  between  man  and  the  animals  is  that 
under  civilization  parenthood  develops  into  the  wider  network  of  relations 
which  we  anthropologists  call  the  system  of  kinship.  Here  at  once  a 
universal  generalization  can  be  made.  In  every  human  society  both  parents 
share  in  procreation,  in  tending  and  training  the  children,  but  only  one  line 
of  descent  is  legally  relevant.  Kinship  is  counted  either  in  the  direct  mother 
line  or  father  line.  And  the  anthropologist  is  also  able  to  state  the  reason 
why.  Any  ambiguity,  any  confusion  in  the  tracing  of  filiation  inevitably 
leads  to  disaster  and  chaos  in  laws  of  inheritance  and  of  succession.  Even 
as  it  is,  with  one  line  of  descent,  primogeniture,  or  with  the  law  of 
borough-English,  ultimogeniture,  most  legal  difficulties  in  primitive  and 
developed  communities  are  due  to  conflicts  in  the  law  of  inheritance  or 

Another  universal  law  of  kinship  is  that,  under  unilateral  descent  and 
the  classificatory  system  of  kinship  status,  parenthood  becomes  extended 
into  clan  relationship.  The  classificatory  use  of  kinship  terms,  again,  a 
curious  hnguistic  phenomenon  which  seems  to  saddle  every  individual  in 
primitive  culture  with  a  whole  bunch  of  fathers  and  mothers,  of  aunts, 
uncles,  sisters,  and,  alas,  even  mothers-in-law,  is  universal.  To  explain  it 
whole  libraries  have  been  written  about  the  existence  of  primitive  prom- 



iscuity,  group  marriage,  and  the  gradual  development  of  monogamy  out 
of  complete  sexual  and  parental  communism.  All  this  is,  in  plain  American, 
bunkum!  Had  the  classificatory  system  been  discovered  by  one  who  spoke 
the  native  language  well,  had  it  been  studied  scientifically,  a  very  simple 
explanation  would  have  been  discovered. 

The  discovery  of  the  actual  live  function  of  classificatory  terms  was 
made  in  Melanesia.  I  was  able  there  to  study  not  the  product,  that  is,  the 
ready-made  so-called  classificatory  system  of  nomenclature,  but  the  proc- 
ess of  extension  as  it  actually  occurred  in  the  life  of  the  individual.  I 
found  that  the  piecemeal  extension  of  linguistic  usage  runs  parallel  with 
the  piecemeal  transference  of  the  child-to-parent  attitude.  The  terms,  thus 
gradually  extended,  do  not  in  fact  lump  clansmen  and  clanswomen  into 
groups  of  fathers,  mothers,  wives  and  husbands,  siblings  and  children.  The 
idea  of  group  parenthood  or  group  marriage  appears  preposterous  to  the 
primitive — he  simply  would  laugh  at  the  volumes  of  anthropological 
speculation  on  primitive  promiscuity.  It  is  the  unadulterated  product  of 
the  academic  mind.  In  real  native  life  terminological  extensions  function 
as  quasi-legal  metaphors.  They  exercise  the  binding  force  on  the  widening 
circle  of  kindred,  a  force  which  diminishes  as  the  genealogical  distance 
grows.  There  is  an  analogy  between  this  phenomenon  and  the  use  of  words 
in  a  spell,  both  being  instances  of  the  creative  metaphor  of  the  magical 

In  the  same  way,  had  the  great  variety  of  the  forms  of  pre-nuptial 
relations  and  of  relaxations  of  the  matrimonial  ties  been  studied,  it  would 
have  been  recognized  that  they  cannot  be  remnants  of  pristine  promis- 
cuity because  they  function  as  experimental  methods  of  courtship. 

Had  I  more  time,  I  should  discuss  with  you  a  number  of  important  laws 
in  the  theory  of  kinship:  the  principle  of  legitimacy;  the  determinism 
in  mother-right  and  father-right;  the  correlation  of  clanship  and  extended 
kinship  with  their  function  in  primitive  communities;  the  function  which 
might  be  roughly  described  as  that  of  social  insurance.  We  should  see 
that  the  wider  kinship  groups  disappear  because  in  our  more  highly  dif- 
ferentiated communities  the  state,  charity  organizations,  friendly  societies, 
and  public  services  take  over  the  functions  of  kinship.  The  theory  of 
kinship  here  placed  before  you  explains  the  phenomena  of  primitive  life 
not  as  survivals  or  diffusions  in  terms  of  this  or  that  recondite  hypothesis 
or  fantasy  but  in  terms  of  observable  fact  and  relations  between  facts. 

[That  no  scientific  theory  will  be  able  to  explain  certain  queer  customs 
of  kinship  and  domesticity  may  be  granted.  Why  do  some  savages  impose 
strict  taboos  and  avoidances  between  a  man  or  a  woman  and  the  mother- 
in-law?  Apart  from  the  inherent  wisdom  of  such  a  rule,  there  is  no  ex- 
planation forthcoming.  Why  do  some  communities  kill  one  of  a  pair  of 
twins;  others  both;  and  yet  others  treat  them  with  special  consideration? 
I  doubt  whether  an  answer  will  ever  be  given.  Why  do  some  people  prac- 



tice  clitoridectomy  and  others  infibulation?  Why  do  we  find  in  one 
culture  circumcision,  and  in  another  subincision?  It  is  difficult  to  answer. 
Speaking  of  twins,  I  am  certain  that  many  a  savage  would  be  most  cer- 
tainly shocked  by,  and  would  develop  all  sorts  of  hypotheses  in  order  to 
explain,  the  interest  which  has  been  taken  recently  by  the  Western  world 
in  quadruplets  and  quintuplets.]"' 

The  quest  for  food  and  primitive  economics 

We  have  found  throughout  our  survey  that  the  food  quest  and  other 
economic  activities  leave  a  deep  imprint  on  the  whole  culture.  This  truism, 
however,  must  be  supplemented  by  a  somewhat  fuller  appreciation  of  the 
place  of  economics  in  primitive  culture.  Let  us  once  more  concentrate  on 
a  concrete  case,  the  system  of  agriculture  of  the  Trobriand  Islanders  in 
Melanesia.  Their  whole  tribal  life  is  dominated  by  agriculture.  During 
the  season  of  hard  work,  men  and  women  practically  live  in  the  gardens. 
Then,  while  the  plants  sprout  and  grow,  the  women  still  have  to  do 
weeding.  The  men,  on  the  other  hand,  devote  themselves  to  other  things, 
fishing  and  trapping,  industries,  canoe-building,  and  trading  expeditions. 
One  man  only,  the  Garden  Magician,  still  remains  hard  at  work.  He  has 
been  in  fact  from  the  beginning  an  organizer  of  work,  directing  the 
allotment  of  land,  and,  while  ostensibly  he  was  carrying  on  his  rites,  in 
reality  he  acted  as  tribal  entrepreneur.  Even  when  it  comes  to  the  harvest 
he  still  has  to  bless  the  crops  and  then  perform  over  the  stored  produce 
a  type  of  magic  which,  by  reducing  the  appetite  of  the  people,  makes 
food  last  longer. 

But  agriculture  as  an  economic  activity  does  not  end  with  the  harvest. 
The  distribution  of  the  products  is  an  important  business  which  penetrates 
into  all  the  aspects  of  tribal  life.  Tribute  has  to  be  given  to  the  chief,  and 
on  this  tribute  his  political  power  is  largely  based.  A  quota  of  food  has 
to  be  put  aside  for  tribal  ceremonies,  and  this  finances  largely  their  public 
and  religious  activities.  Finally,  the  third  stage  of  the  economic  process, 
consumption,  presents  many  interesting  aspects  in  this  tribe,  as  everywhere 
else.  For  consumption  means  not  merely  eating,  but  also  handling,  display, 
ritual  food  offerings,  and  last  but  not  least,  sheer  waste.  For  in  the 
Trobriands  the  passion  for  accumulated  food  is  so  great  that  people  prefer 
to  keep  their  yams  till  they  rot  in  the  storehouses  rather  than  to  see  the 
latter  empty. 

We  see,  then,  that  agriculture  must  be  studied  within  the  context  of  the 
whole  economic  system.  For  the  vegetables  are  exchanged  for  fish;  they 
are  used  in  the  financing  of  enterprise  and  for  feeding  the  craftsmen,  for 
the  capitahzation  of  industries.  This  is  especially  interesting  in  the  study 
of  the  large  native  jewelry,  or,  more  correctly,  tokens  of  wealth,  which 

*  This  paragraph  appeared  in  the  Harvard  address,  but  not  in  Human  A£Fairs. 



play  a  considerable  part  in  the  political  system  and  which  are  also  cere- 
monially exchanged  in  the  course  of  large  inter-tribal  expeditions,  which 
are  practiced  throughout  this  region.  Could  we  apply  the  same  detailed 
study  to  Masai  or  to  Chagga  economics,  or  those  of  the  Eskimos  or  Plains 
Indians,  we  would  see  that  they  also  must  be  considered  under  the  three 
headings  of  production,  distribution,  and  consumption. 

In  production  we  would  find  everywhere  the  question  of  the  social 
and  cultural  forces  by  which  labor  is  organized.  We  would  have  to 
inquire  how  productive  labor  is  maintained;  in  other  words,  whether 
there  are  beginnings  of  capital  and  even  of  interest.  Under  the  heading 
of  distribution,  we  would  not  merely  have  to  consider  the  complicated 
institutions  of  African  marketing,  peddling,  and  hawking,  as  well  as  more 
or  less  extensive  forms  of  inter-tribal  trade.  We  would  also  have  to  discuss 
the  chief's  tribute. 

I  think  that  throughout  the  world  we  would  find  that  the  relations 
between  economics  and  politics  are  of  the  same  type.  The  chief,  every- 
where, acts  as  a  tribal  banker,  collecting  food,  storing  it,  and  protecting 
it,  and  then  using  it  for  the  benefit  of  the  whole  community.  His  func- 
tions are  the  prototype  of  the  public  finance  system  and  the  organization 
of  state  treasuries  of  today.  Deprive  the  chief  of  his  privileges  and  financial 
benefits,  and  who  suffers  most  but  the  whole  tribe?  At  the  same  time, 
it  would  be  interesting  to  see  how  sometimes,  especially  in  African 
monarchies,  the  chief's  political  power  was  abused  for  selfish  and  extor- 
tionate financial  policy;  and  equally  interesting  to  see  what  limits  there 
were  to  such  malpractices.  In  the  few  cases  where  I  was  able  to  investigate 
into  this  matter  in  central  East  Africa,  I  found  that  the  subjects  could, 
and  did,  rebel,  or  else  used  sorcery,  of  which  the  monarch  was  usually  very 
much  afraid. 

As  regards  consumption,  we  should  find  that  the  common  eating  of 
food,  its  preparation  and  the  joint  domestic  economy,  is  one  of  the 
strongest  ties  of  family  life.  Even  more  interesting  would  it  be  to  study 
conspicuous  waste  under  primitive  conditions.  It  is  possible  to  show  that 
such  institutions  as  the  Northwest  Indian  potlatch  and  the  large  displays 
and  redistributions  of  food  practiced  all  over  Oceania  are  not  merely  a 
curiosity.  The  passion  for  wealth  engenders  thrift  and  stimulates  produc- 
tion. The  power  of  wealth  as  a  guarantee  of  legal  contracts  or  as  public 
payment  for  services  forms  one  of  the  earliest  binding  forces  in  which 
economic  value  influences  and  enhances  social  organization  and  solidarity. 
The  delight  which  the  Trobriander  feels  in  seeing  his  yams  rot  corresponds 
to  an  important  economic  attitude;  we  have  here  a  standardized  sentiment 
which  crystallized  around  accumulation  and  permanence  of  foodstuffs, 
the  sentiment  which  sets  economic  security  above  immediate  satisfaction. 

The  anthropologist  is  often  asked  by  elderly  ladies  or  young  girls:  "Is 
primitive  man  an  individuahst  or  communist?  I  want  to  know  that, 



because  I  want  to  know  whether  human  nature  is  communistic  or  not." 
I  could  refer  to  one  or  two  instances  where  a  scholar  of  high  repute  has 
played  into  the  hands  of  the  lady  questioner,  old  or  young.  As  a  matter 
of  fact,  the  anthropologist  can  give  an  opinion,  but  only  as  to  the  work- 
ings of  the  institution  of  property  and  not  as  to  that  vague  entity,  human 
nature.  Communism  as  public  control  of  private  property  has  always 
existed  and  must  be  present  in  every  culture,  simple  and  developed.  Com- 
munism as  absence  of  individual  property  does  not  exist  under  primitive 

Take  the  prototype  of  all  wealth,  value,  and  property:  soil  used  for 
agriculture.  Here  it  is  very  easy  to  juggle  with  words,  for  on  the  surface 
a  pastoral,  nomadic  people  are  communistic  in  land.  Yet  an  intelhgent 
analysis  shows  that  in  the  effective  use  of  land  they  are  not  more  com- 
munistic than  the  New  Yorkers  who  use  their  public  thoroughfares 
jointly.  The  economics  of  cattle,  which  is  the  effective  way  in  which  land 
is  used,  is  always  subject  to  individual  ownership.  Tillers  of  the  soil  who 
use  the  land  directly  invariably  appropriate  the  soil,  at  least  for  the  period 
of  tilling.  A  tribe  in  central  Africa,  the  Bemba,  among  whom  I  was  able 
to  do  some  work  on  this  subject,  have  an  unlimited  supply  of  land.  The 
title  is  vested  in  the  chief.  It  is  controlled  by  the  local  headman,  and 
every  individual  is  allowed  as  much  as  he  likes.  But  once  the  boundaries 
are  marked,  there  is  no  trespassing,  no  common  use.  There  is  full  and 
exclusive  individual  appropriation  for  the  period  of  from  three  to  five 
years  while  cultivation  goes  on.  Even  then  quarrels  about  land  are  more 
frequent  than  about  women. 

The  Trobrianders  have  an  extremely  complicated  system  of  land  tenure, 
the  gist  of  which  is  that  the  titular  owner  very  seldom  uses  his  own 
property,  but  receives  an  adequate  and  conveniently  situated  portion  of 
land,  for  which  he  pays  a  nominal  rent.  Among  the  Chagga,  ownership  is 
individual,  but  if  a  man  owns  more  than  he  can  actually  cultivate,  the 
community  disposes  of  the  surplus  to  someone  who  is  in  need  of  soil. 

Complete  communism  of  land  actually  under  cultivation  is  never  found 
in  any  primitive  society.  Production  is  a  process  in  which  man  invests 
labor  and  intelligent  foresight,  and  at  least  as  much  of  his  wealth  as  is 
necessary  for  planting  and  for  keeping  himself  alive  while  he  works.  No 
free  human  being  will  do  it  permanently  without  some  legal  guarantee, 
safeguarding  for  him  the  results  of  his  efforts.  The  guarantee  given  to 
each  free  individual  that  the  results  of  his  efforts  will  be  his  to  use 
or  to  give,  is  tantamount  to  individual  ownership.  Where  there  are  slaves, 
pawns,  or  serfs,  there  may  be  a  class  of  people  who  work  without  any 
claims  to  the  fruits  of  their  labor.  But  such  communism  turns  men  into 
slaves,  serfs,  or  pawns.  May  this  not  be  true  of  all  forms  of  communism? 

Another  interesting  lesson  which  we  can  learn  from  an  anthropological 
survey  is  in  the  analysis  of  profit.  We  are  often  told  that  with  the  aboli- 



tion  of  private  profit  all  evils,  such  as  war,  sexual  jealousy,  poverty,  and 
even  drunkenness,  will  disappear.  There  is  no  doubt  at  all  that  profit 
lends  itself  to  abuse  through  dishonest  financial  manipulation  and  the 
running,  in  the  interest  of  shareholders,  of  enterprises  which  ought  to 
be  directed  to  public  service.  It  must  be  controlled  by  public  agencies  in 
primitive  as  well  as  in  civilized  communities.  But  is  it  necessary  to  change 
the  whole  social  order,  nationalize  all  wealth  and  means  of  production,  in 
order  to  reach  the  desired  end?  To  me  the  Marxian  doctrine  of  profit 
entails  a  complete  misconception  of  the  relationship  between  the  economic 
factor  and  other  motives  and  drives  in  human  society.  The  pocket  is  not 
the  only  channel  by  which  wealth  can  be  maldistributed  and  abuses 
canalized.  Vanity,  doctrinaire  zeal,  incompetence,  and  personal  ambition 
cause  as  much  havoc  as  does  greed.  The  men  who  control  production — 
in  Africa  or  Europe,  in  Melanesia  or  America — do  not  and  cannot  fill 
their  pockets  or  bellies  with  gold.  Where  they  can  and  do  harm  is  in 
mishandling  and  misusing  the  production  and  distribution  of  wealth.  In 
order  to  prevent  that,  public  control  by  disinterested  agencies  is  necessary. 
And  here  it  is  obviously  better  to  have  a  system  in  which  control  of 
wealth,  legislation,  and  the  executive  use  of  power  are  not  concentrated 
in  the  same  hands,  but  vested  in  separate  agencies.  The  totalitarian  state 
and  the  African  autocracy  are  not  models  of  sound  economic  systems. 
The  real  advance  lies  in  the  gradual  piecemeal  reform,  involving  all  the 
parts  of  the  economic  and  political  organism.  An  integral  revolution 
destroys,  but  it  does  not  create.  The  concentration  of  all  controls  in  the 
same  hands  means  the  aboUtion  of  all  control. 

Savage  exoticisms  and  scientific  anthropology 

So  far  we  have  concentrated  on  prosaic,  ordinary,  non-savage  aspects. 
[Many  of  you  who  have  come  to  see  a  notorious  anthropologist  perform 
on  the  platform  have,  no  doubt,  drawn  up  a  hopeful  list  of  anticipations: 
cannibalism,  couvade,  avoidance  of  the  mother-in-law,  and  the  pious 
custom  of  killing  and  eating  aged  and  decrepit  parents,  head-hunting  and 
infanticide,  sorcery,  trial  by  ordeal,  human  sacrifice,  taboos,  totems,  and 
all  the  other  tricks  of  trade  of  the  entertaining  anthropologist.]*  It  all 
started  with  Herodotus,  who  amused  us  with  talks  about  lotus-eaters  and 
man-eaters,  about  queer  sexual  habits  and  gastronomic  perversions. 

[I  have  been  drab  and  sober  on  purpose.]""  If  anthropology  is  to 
become  the  comparative  science  of  cultures,  it  is  high  time  it  stepped  out 
of  its  herodotage  and  anecdotage.  It  must  turn  to  the  fundamentals  of 
human  culture,  in  simple  and  complex,  primitive  and  highly  developed 
forms  alike.  It  must  study  primitive  economics  and  political  systems,  the 

*  The  material  in  brackets  appeared  in  the  Harvard  address,  but  not  in  Human 



theory  of  kinship  and  social  organization,  early  jurisprudence,  and  systems 
of  education.  It  must  study  all  of  these  across  the  widest  comparative 
range  of  human  experience. 

Not  that  we  could  not  profitably  dwell  on  some  of  the  primitive  eccen- 
tricities of  man.  Cannibalism  as  a  system  of  foreign  policy  is  a  sound  way 
of  solving  international  complications:  it  is  a  rapid  and  effective  manner 
of  assimilating  racial  and  national  minorities.  To  run  away  from  or  to  turn 
your  back  on  your  mother-in-law,  many  of  us  feel,  would  be  an  amiable 
and  highly  rational  way  of  securing  domestic  happiness.  The  eating  up 
of  decrepit  parents  is  a  good  method  of  old-age  insurance,  while  expressing 
fully  an  appreciation  of  one's  progenitors. 

Seriously,  however,  in  most  of  these  queer  and  sordid  customs  there  is 
a  core  of  rational  and  practical  principle,  and  also  a  quota  of  belief  or 
superstition  which  on  balance  is  not  always  completely  foreign  to  us. 
Cannibalism  is  as  repulsive  to  us  as  the  eating  of  underdone  beef  or 
mutton  is  to  the  sentimental  vegetarian,  or  the  swallowing  of  live  oysters 
would  be  to  a  Jain  priest.  But  after  all,  meat  is  meat,  and  where  there  is  a 
scarcity  of  it  a  strong  nervous  system  cannot  be  too  finicky  or  allow 
imagination  to  run  away  with  it.  But  cannibalism  also  involves  the 
fundamental  belief  that  by  eating  your  slain  enemy  you  acquire  his  per- 
sonal qualities  or  his  spiritual  virtues.  And  here  just  stop  to  think  for  a 
moment.  Is  this  belief  of  a  mystical  or  spiritual  union  by  ingestion  so 
absolutely  alien  to  us?  Can  you  not  think  of  very  highly  differentiated 
and  spiritual  religions  where  mystic  union  is  achieved  by  a  sacrament  in 
which  the  spiritual  substance  is  taken  by  mouth?  Between  the  lowest 
and  crudest  customs  and  the  highest  spiritual  act  there  may  be  an  unex- 
pected common  measure,  so  that  charity  may  finish  abroad  when  knowl- 
edge begins  at  home.  By  placing  thus  each  of  these  strange  and  queer 
customs  within  its  proper  psychological  and  cultural  setting,  we  can 
bring  it  near  to  us,  we  can  perceive  in  it  the  universally  human  substra- 
tum. In  other  words,  we  have  to  carry  out  our  analysis  of  primitive  belief 
or  superstition  by  means  of  universally  valid  concepts  and  thus  make  it 
amenable  to  scientific  treatment. 

There  is  no  doubt  that  most  "queernesses"  and  exoticisms  of  savagery 
reside  in  what  we  call  "superstition"  in  others  and  "belief"  in  ourselves. 
Magic  is  obviously  further  from  our  comprehension  even  than  primitive 
religion.  Those  acquainted  with  ethnological  literature  know  how  much 
attention  has  been  devoted  to  magic.  It  is  usually  regarded  as  a  primitive 
form  of  mental  aberration  and  as  a  typical  symptom  of  savagery.  Tylor  , 
defined  magic  as  a  grossly  distorted  type  of  animistic  philosophy.  Frazer's  j 
theory  presents  magic  as  a  perverted  form  of  primitive  pseudo  science,  t 
Professor  Freud  again  sees  in  magic  a  typical  delusion  of  paranoia  and 
ascribes  it  to  primitive  man's  belief  in  the  omnipotence  of  thought. 



The  function  of  magic 

In  truth  magic  is  nothing  of  the  sort.  Here  again  it  might  be  best  to 
follow  a  magical  act  and  see  what  we  can  learn  from  it.  I  was  sitting  in  a 
lagoon  village  built  on  piles  when,  at  an  early  stage  of  my  Melanesian 
field  work,  I  had  my  first  experience  of  a  severe  monsoon  hurricane.  After 
the  first  few  strong  blasts  a  general  commotion  arose:  people  could  be 
seen  running  about  and  screaming,  some  were  trying  to  make  fast  the 
canoes,  others  to  put  away  some  of  their  chattels.  They  were  all  in  panic. 
The  onslaught  of  the  wind  was  terrific,  and  I  had  to  muster  all  my  nervous 
energy  to  keep  up  the  white  man's  burden  of  dignified  impassivity. 

And  then  I  received  my  first  intimation  of  the  character,  the  power,  and 
the  influence  of  Melanesian  magic.  When  the  wind  was  at  its  worst  a  loud 
chant  suddenly  arose  from  one  of  the  platforms.  The  hereditary  wind 
magician  of  the  community  was  about  to  calm  down  the  storm  in  order  to 
prevent  any  destruction  which  it  might  wreak.  The  words  of  the  spell 
were  simple:  he  ordered  the  wind  to  abate,  to  avaunt,  to  lie  still.  He 
addressed  the  wind  from  the  mountain,  the  wind  from  the  lagoon,  the 
wind  from  the  rainy  clouds,  and  ordered  them  to  lie  down  and  lie  still. 
He  asserted  that  no  harm  could  be  done  to  the  village. 

What  was  the  effect  of  his  imprecations  on  the  wind  does  not  matter 
to  us  skeptics,  but  the  effect  of  his  voice  on  the  human  beings  was  truly 
magical.  His  voice  rose  like  a  mighty  wall  of  safety  between  the  frightened 
human  beings  and  the  unchained  forces  of  nature.  It  was  evident  that 
the  villagers  now  felt  safe.  They  became  more  and  more  calm  and  reas- 
sured as  the  magician  proceeded  with  his  long  spell.  They  behaved  quite 
differently  after  the  magic  had  been  chanted.  And  immediately  after  he 
had  finished  his  spell  the  magician  took  the  practical  situation  in  hand:  he 
gave  orders  what  to  do,  orders  which  were  immediately  obeyed  in  a 
disciplined,  organized  manner. 

I  realized  then  and  there  what  the  real  function  of  magic  is.  On  the 
psychological  side  it  leads  to  a  mental  integration,  to  that  optimism  and 
confidence  in  the  face  of  danger  which  has  won  to  man  many  a  battle 
with  nature  or  with  his  human  foes.  Socially,  magic,  by  giving  leadership 
to  one  man,  establishes  organization  at  a  time  when  organized  and  effec- 
tive action  is  of  supreme  importance. 

We  have  seen  exactly  the  same  function  of  magic  in  Trobriand  agri- 
culture. There  also  the  magician  acts  as  organizer  to  the  community, 
while  to  each  individual  he  gives  confidence,  spurring  him  to  greater 
effort.  And  here  I  would  immediately  like  to  add  a  rider.  If  we  were 
to  examine  either  the  wind  magic  or  the  agricultural  magic  point  by 
point,  we  should  come  to  one  extremely  important  conclusion.  The 
activity  of  the  magician  never  encroaches  on  the  technique  or  subject 
matter  of  practical  work.  In  agriculture  the  Trobriand  magician  bestows 



additional  fertility  on  the  soil,  forestalls  pests  and  blights,  the  ravages 
of  bush  pigs  and  wallabies,  destruction  by  drought  and  other  unman- 
ageable causes.  He  never  does  magic  instead  of  cutting  down  the  shrub 
or  fertihzing  the  soil  with  ashes. 

Magic  is  always  carried  out  on  the  principle  "Magic  helps  those  who 
help  themselves."  It  deals  with  the  unaccountable,  unmanageable  ele- 
ments of  luck,  chance,  and  misfortune.  It  never  tackles  the  ordinary 
forces  of  nature,  which  are  always  managed  by  man  with  his  own  hands. 
Exactly  the  same  may  be  said  of  the  magic  of  war,  of  love,  of  enterprise, 
and  of  health.  Everywhere  magic  only  steps  in  where  knowledge  has  de- 
clared its  inability  to  deal  with  the  situation.  Far  from  being  an  assertion 
of  the  omnipotence  of  thought,  it  is  rather  a  humble  declaration  that  man 
throws  himself  on  the  mercies  of  higher  supernatural  forces,  revealed 
through  sacred  tradition. 

We  define  magic  as  the  ritual  act  performed  to  bring  about  a  practical 
result  unachievable  by  man's  unaided  force.  The  ritual  act  is  based  on  the 
belief  that  by  the  strict  observance  of  traditionally  prescribed  behavior, 
bodily  and  verbal,  man  can  influence  the  course  of  nature  and  the  rulings 
of  fate.  This  belief  is  always  founded  on  traditional  mythology  and  on  the 
empirical  affirmation  of  the  power  of  magic.  Magic  has  its  ethical  value 
in  that  it  affirms  the  positive  issues  and  thus  leads  to  courage,  endurance, 
and  perseverance.  It  also  makes  people  join  in  ritual  work  for  the  common 

To  define  religion  quite  briefly,  it  differs  from  magic  in  that  it  does  not 
aim  at  practical  ends  in  emergencies  of  ordinary  life.  Religion,  indeed, 
deals  with  the  permanent  and  enduring  problems  of  human  existence. 
The  acts  of  religion  are  not  means  to  a  practical  end.  Each  religious  ritual 
is  an  end  in  itself;  in  communion  with  divinity,  in  sacrifice  the  wor- 
shipper ministers  to  the  pleasure  of  his  god  or  gods;  in  acts  of  ancestor- 
worship  homage  is  made  and  union  achieved  with  the  spirits  of  the  dead. 
Each  of  such  acts  brings  about  its  own  end  and  compensation.  In  one 
important  branch  of  religious  activities,  those  connected  with  the  death 
of  a  human  being,  we  also  see  that  mourning  and  wailing,  ritualized  grief, 
and  burial  center  around  a  spiritual  rather  than  a  practical  necessity:  that 
of  removing  the  pollution  of  death  and  of  insuring  the  spiritual  welfare 
of  the  soul  of  the  deceased.  But  it  is  easy  to  see  that  religion  also  removes 
the  mental  conflict  in  face  of  metaphysical  danger:  religious  belief 
affirms  the  positive  issues  in  promising  man  immortaHty,  in  bringing  him 
in  touch  with  Providence,  in  setting  him  on  the  right  way  to  reach  personal 
salvation  and  the  good  of  the  community. 

The  place  of  knowledge,  religion,  and  magic  in  culture 

How  can  we  link  up  reHgion,  magic,  sorcery,  and  divination  as  cultural 
phenomena  with  our  noble  system  of  interpretation  in  which  we  conceive 



of  culture  as  the  vast  apparatus  for  the  satisfaction  of  human  needs? 
We  have  seen  that  the  fundamental  needs  of  the  human  organism,  those 
of  food,  reproduction,  safety,  freedom  of  movement,  are  satisfied  under 
culture  by  ad  hoc  systems  of  organized  activities.  Culture  thus  establishes 
the  quest  for  food  and  the  industries,  technical  constructiveness,  courtship 
and  marriage,  kinship  schemes,  and  military  organizations. 

We  have  seen  how  this  cultural,  roundabout  way  of  indirect  satisfac- 
tion imposes  secondary  or  derived  needs.  These  are  not  innate  drives  of  the 
organism  but  highly  derived  implications  of  man's  cultural  response  to 
innate  urges.  Thus  economic  desires,  values,  standards,  legal  inhibitions 
and  the  consciousness  of  one's  rights  and  privileges,  social  ambition  and 
kinship  sentiments,  political  prestige  and  submissiveness  are  essentially 
himian  characteristics.  But  they  are  imposed  by  the  circumstances  of 
human  existence  in  organized  communities  and  not  by  reflex  or  instinct 
or  any  factor  of  innate  endowment. 

But  this  is  not  the  end.  The  vast  machinery  of  culture  is  maintained, 
regulated,  and  preserved  by  the  body  of  traditional  lore.  This  is  made 
possible  by  language,  which  allows  man  to  formulate  general  rules  and 
condense  them  into  concepts.  Thus,  to  systems  of  action  there  correspond 
systems  of  thought.  Action  must  be  based  on  foresight  and  on  the  grip 
of  the  context.  Man  deals  with  nature  and  his  fellow  beings  by  construc- 
tive and  imaginative  handling  of  each  situation.  He  has  to  lay  down  the 
results  of  past  experience  into  systems,  fixed,  standardized,  yet  withal 
plastic.  These  he  hands  over  from  generation  to  generation. 

Systems  of  human  knowledge  exist  even  among  the  lowest  primitives. 
They  must  have  existed  from  the  very  beginning  of  humanity.  The 
widespread  misconception  that  primitive  man  has  no  rudiments  of  science, 
that  he  lives  in  a  hazy,  mystical,  or  infantile  world,  has  to  be  rejected  in 
the  light  of  our  fuller  knowledge  of  primitive  cultures. 

But  though  knowledge  is  easily  accounted  for,  what  are  the  natural 
foundations  of  religion  and  magic?  That  which  establishes  man's  fijial 
superiority  over  the  animals,  his  power  of  symboUc  and  constructive 
thought,  imposes  on  him  also  great  burdens.  It  reveals  to  him  the  funda- 
mental uncertainty  and  limitation  of  his  own  existence.  In  order  to  think 
clearly  man  has  to  look  back  and  remember;  he  has  to  look  forward  and 
foresee;  and  that  means  he  is  subject  to  fear  as  well  as  to  hope.  Man,  of  all 
the  animals,  cannot  Kve  in  the  present;  he  cannot  lead  a  hand-to-mouth 
existence  from  moment  to  moment.  This  must  finally  bring  him  to  ponder 
on  topics  where  emotions  blend  with  cold  reason  and  where  the  answer 
is  dictated  by  emotions  though  it  is  largely  framed  by  reason. 

What  is  the  ultimate  destiny  of  man  and  of  mankind?  What  is  the 
meaning  of  life  and  the  relations  between  man  and  the  universe?  Whence 
have  we  come  and  whither  are  we  bound,  and  what  is  the  sense  of  all 
man's  fears,  sufferings,  and  disappointments?  Metaphysics  and  religious 



Speculation  are  as  old  as  knowledge  and  as  old  as  language  itself.  At  the 
beginning  they  are  extremely  simple  and  crude.  Animism  and  beliefs  in 
magical  force,  fantasies  about  sorcery,  ghosts,  vampires,  and  totemism — 
that  is,  the  belief  in  the  spiritual  affinity  between  man  and  nature — are 
the  answers  of  primitive  man  to  the  fundamental  riddles  of  life.  Once 
we  realize  their  real  nature  it  is  easy  to  perceive  their  great  value.  They  are 
well  adapted  to  the  Hmited  conditions  in  which  primitives  have  to  live, 
they  contain  the  answer  to  the  questions  of  whence  and  whither,  and  above 
all  they  supply  man  with  ritual  means  of  getting  in  touch  with  spiritual 
forces,  of  establishing  communion  with  ancestral  spirits,  totemic  beings, 
or  divinities,  and  they  allow  man  to  secure  his  immortality  and  thus  to 
give  sense  to  his  life. 

Knowledge,  magic,  and  rehgion  are  the  highest,  the  most  derived  im- 
peratives of  human  culture.  Indirectly  and  through  several  relays  they 
also  are  the  outcome  of  man's  organic  needs.  The  craving  for  religion 
and  for  magical  power,  and  scientific  curiosity  as  well,  are  not  instinctive. 
They  are  the  outcome  and  the  correlate  of  that  intelligent  adjustment  of 
man  to  his  environment  which  makes  him  the  master  thereof.  Magic  and 
to  a  much  higher  degree  religion  are  the  indispensable  moral  forces  in 
every  human  culture.  Grown  out,  as  they  are,  of  the  necessity  to  remove 
internal  conflict  in  the  individual  and  to  organize  the  community,  they 
become  the  essential  factors  of  spiritual  and  social  integration.  They  deal 
with  problems  which  affect  all  members  of  the  community  alike.  They 
lead  to  actions  on  which  depends  the  welfare  of  one  and  all.  Religion  and 
to  a  lesser  extent  magic  thus  become  the  very  foundations  of  culture. 

Summary  and  conclusions 

By  now,  I  trust,  we  all  realize  that  there  exist  laws  of  cultural  process, 
and  that  their  discovery  is  the  main  task  of  scientific  anthropology. 

I  have  started  with  the  affirmation  that  there  is  a  science  of  culture.  I 
hope  that  throughout  the  succeeding  pictures  of  living  cultures  with 
their  variety  and  diversity  of  forms,  throughout  the  analysis  of  what 
these  cultures  have  in  common  and  how  they  differ,  we  have  all  realized 
that  there  is  an  underlying  fundamental  sameness;  that  it  is  possible  to 
establish  the  common  measure  which  is  indispensable  for  the  scientific 
treatment  of  any  type  of  reaUty. 

We  have  found  everywhere  that  observation  can  be  made  fruitful, 
relevant,  and  convincing  only  if  it  is  inspired  by  a  theory  of  the  nature 
of  culture.  Culture  in  the  first  place  has  to  satisfy  the  organic  needs  of 
man.  From  the  indirect,  that  is  cultural,  satisfaction  of  these,  there  arise 
further  instrumental  imperatives.  Finally,  in  the  spiritual  realm,  culture 
implies  the  integrative  principles  of  knowledge,  religion,  ethics,  and 
magical  technique.  Every  human  culture  can  be  analyzed  by  the  same 
universally  valid  concepts,  derived  from  a  theory  which  again  consists  of 



a  system  of  general  laws.  At  the  same  time,  we  have  found  that  there  is 
only  one  type  of  really  scientific  theory,  and  that  is  a  theory  which  is 
dictated  by  observation  and  which  can  be  tested  by  it. 

The  general  concepts  and  laws  I  need  not  summarize  for  you.  They 
result  from  the  universal  occurrence  of  such  aspects  of  human  culture 
as  economics  and  education,  law  and  political  organization,  magic,  reli- 
gion, art,  and  recreation.  The  cultural  activities,  again,  in  every  society 
integrate  into  natural  units,  which  we  have  called  institutions.  And  here 
again  it  is  possible  to  draw  up  a  list  or  table  of  such  institutions.  The 
family,  the  extended  kinship  grouping,  the  clan,  the  village  community, 
the  tribe,  and  the  nation  are  such  universal  institutions.  If  we  add  to 
them  such  more  diversified  types  as  occupational  groups,  economic  teams, 
voluntary  associations,  we  have  a  number  of  cultural  entities  each  of 
which  is  amenable  to  laws  and  generalizations,  and  each  of  which  must 
be  studied  by  the  same  outfit  of  concepts. 

In  the  vast  system  of  institutional  activities  which  corresponds  to  the 
fact  of  reproduction,  we  have  listed  such  laws  as  the  dominance  of  the 
initial  situation;  the  principle  of  legitimacy,  defining  the  legal  aspect  of 
parenthood;  the  further  principle  that  marriage  leads  to  the  establishment 
of  a  domestic  unit;  the  concept  of  the  unilateral  and  bilateral  kinship 
principles  in  reproduction,  and  the  principle  that  the  clan  is  not  equivalent 
in  influence  to  the  family,  but  a  derivate. 

Whether  we  study  economics  as  an  aspect  or  whether  we  proceed  to  the 
definition  of  such  specific  economic  institutions  as  agriculture,  cattle- 
breeding,  the  organized  activity  of  the  hunting  team,  we  can  and  must 
base  our  studies  on  a  series  of  general  laws  or  principles.  We  have  to 
inquire  into  the  economic  process  in  its  three  phases:  production,  distribu- 
tion and  exchange,  and  consumption.  We  have  to  study  these  three 
phases  as  they  permeate  the  whole  of  tribal  life.  We  cannot  understand 
the  titles  to  property  except  through  the  role  which  they  play  in  pro- 
duction and  the  influence  which  production  exercises  on  property. 
Again,  we  find  that  unless  we  consider  economics  in  conjunction  with  the 
organizing  forces  of  religion  and  of  magic,  of  law  and  politics,  we  shall 
always  miss  some  of  the  most  important  realities  of  economics. 

Had  we  more  time,  we  should  have  been  able  to  construct  equally  ex- 
haustive theories  of  primitive  law  and  primitive  education,  of  the  part 
played  by  recreation  in  primitive  societies,  and  of  the  principles  of 
artistic  activities  in  their  social  and  cultural  aspect.* 

In  the  course  of  our  analysis  we  have  had  to  emphasize  the  point  that 
every  cultural  phenomenon  presents  to  us  three  main  facts:  the  material, 

*The  reader  might  perhaps  compare  my  Crime  and  Custom  in  Primitive  Society, 
1926;  the  article,  "Kinship,"  in  Man,  1930,  p.  19,  where  a  bibliography  of  my  publica- 
tions on  kinship  will  be  found  [see  p.  153  of  Sex,  Culture,  and  Myth];  and  the  small 
book,  The  Definition  of  Culture,  shortly  to  be  published. 



the  social,  and  the  spiritual.  The  first  is  best  approached  through  the 
analysis  of  the  material  substratum  of  culture;  the  second  by  the  study 
of  institutions;  the  third  through  the  linguistic  approach.  For,  although 
I  am  not  a  behaviorist,  I  believe  that  it  is  best  to  study  mental  processes 
in  their  objective,  outward  manifestations. 

Thus  I  maintain  that  the  subject-matter  of  the  comparative  study  of 
cultures  does  lend  itself  to  sober,  scientific  treatment.  I  also  maintain 
that  this  treatment  is  indispensable,  especially  from  the  point  of  view 
of  actual  research  in  the  field. 

I  have  tried  to  define  the  scope  of  anthropology,  the  pioneer  among 
social  sciences  in  the  empirical  approach  to  determinism.  Determinism 
does  exist  in  cultural  process,  and  the  scientific  statement  of  this  process 
must  be  deterministic,  objective,  fully  documented,  and  unaffected  by 
personal  and  impressionistic  distortion.  Scientific  anthropology,  as  you 
have  seen,  must  work  on  the  foundations  laid  down  by  biology  and 
physiology;  it  must  work  hand  in  hand  with  the  psychologist;  and  it  must 
learn  as  much  as  it  can  learn  from  the  student  of  environment,  the 

Our  plea  for  scientific  anthropology,  of  course,  is  not  tantamount  to 
an  indictment  or  exorcism  of  all  the  attractive  and  amusing  speculations. 
Evolutionary  aper^us,  indeed,  I  regard  as  indispensable.  Careful  and  sober 
diflFusionist  hypotheses  seem  to  me  quite  profitable.  To  minimize  or  dis- 
card a  really  human  interest  in  humanism  would  be  a  crime.  To  mix  up 
or  confuse  the  emotional  or  artistic  approach  with  the  scientific  is  a 
serious  lack  of  judgment.  The  two  approaches  must  be  used  simultane- 
ously; they  have  to  complement  each  other.  But  science  must  furnish 
the  foundation. 

The  scientific  theory  of  culture  has  also  brought  to  light  some  really 
vital  truths.  Is  the  recognition  of  the  universal  stability  and  permanence 
of  the  family  and  marriage  of  no  interest  in  these  days  when  domestic 
institutions  seem  to  be  threatened  on  every  side?  The  anthropologist  might 
almost  add:  "As  it  was  in  the  beginning,  is  now  and  ever  shall  be." 
That  communism  cannot  be  a  panacea  for  all  our  cultural  troubles  may 
also  be  an  interesting  appreciation.  We  have  seen  that  communism  alone 
is  never  to  be  found  in  any  culture,  however  primitive  or  complex.  We 
have  seen,  also,  why  communism  as  an  economic  system  cannot  work 
except  in  conjunction  with  slavery.  On  the  other  hand,  pure  individualism 
does  not  exist  anywhere  either.  So  that  some  admixture  of  communism, 
that  is,  public  control,  has  always  worked  and  worked  well.  But  it  cannot 
work  wonders,  or  cure  all  evils.  We  have  defined  the  role  of  the  super- 
natural as  an  integrating  and  organizing  force  in  society.  One  of  the 
implications  of  our  analysis  was  that  the  abuse  of  law  and  political  power 
must  always  lead  to  cultural  disaster.  Science  and  virtue,  efficiency  and 
endurance,  courage  and  chastity  can  never  be  dictated  by  edicts,  nor 



enflamed  by  oratory,  nor  yet  forced  into  existence  by  a  system  of  police 
spies  and  police  brutalities.  To  replace  religion  and  morality  by  the  secret 
service  of  a  totalitarian  state  is  a  disease  of  culture. 

For  we  have  fully  acknowledged  the  existence  of  cultural  maladjust- 
ment, and  even  of  lethal  ailments  of  civilization.  The  very  concepts  of 
adaptation  and  function  imply  degrees  and  qualifications,  from  excellence 
to  decay. 

Our  present  civilization  is  undoubtedly  passing  through  a  very  severe, 
perhaps  a  critical  stage  of  maladjustment.  The  abuse  of  legal  and  admin- 
istrative power;  the  inability  to  create  lasting  conditions  of  peace;  the 
recrudescence  of  aggressive  militarism  and  magical  trickery;  the  torpor 
of  true  religion  and  the  assumption  of  a  religious  garb  by  doctrines  of 
racial  or  national  superiority,  or  the  gospel  of  Marx — all  this  shows  that, 
while  we  have  become  the  masters  of  inanimate  nature,  we  have  con- 
nived at  the  complete  enslavement  of  man  by  machine. 

The  greatest  need  of  today  is  to  establish  a  balance  between  the  stu- 
pendous power  of  natural  science  and  its  applications,  and  the  self- 
inflicted  backwardness  of  social  science  and  the  consequent  impotence  of 
social  engineering.  To  repeat  a  truism  just  mentioned,  we  have  allowed 
the  machine  to  overpower  man.  One  of  the  reasons  for  this  is  that  we 
have  learned  to  understand,  hence  to  respect  and  to  handle,  the  mecha- 
nism. But  we  have  failed  to  develop  the  really  scientific  spirit  in  humanism. 

The  following  paragraph  served  as  conclusion  to  the  Harvard  address: 
Today  the  freedom  to  exercise  purely  scientific  determinism  is  threatened  in 
■many  countries.  This  freedom  is  even  more  essential  for  social  than  for  natural 
science.  It  is,  therefore,  our  duty  on  this  occasion  to  insist  on  the  necessity  for 
this  freedom.  We  are  assembled  here  to  celebrate  the  tercentenary  of  one  of 
the  greatest  workshops  of  science  and  reason  ever  established  by  man.  The 
founding  of  Harvard  was  an  act  of  human  behavior  not  outside  reason  and 
determinism.  It  was  determined  by  wise  foresight,  and  its  existence  and  work 
have  been  enduring  factors  in  developing  reason  and  determining  rational  be- 
havior. Harvard  has  always  fostered  that  spirit  of  science  which  means  freedom 
in  the  search  for  truth,  for  the  laws  of  nature  and  of  human  behavior.  Let  this 
spirit  preside  over  the  development  of  the  comparative  science  of  man,  and 
we  may  yet  hope  that  the  spirit  of  Harvard — that  is,  the  spirit  of  science — will 
prevail  in  the  conduct  of  human  affairs. 


The  scientific  basis  of  anthropology  must  be  estabhshed,  for  anthropology 
as  the  theory  of  culture  provides  in  many  ways  the  scientific  basis  of  all 
studies  concerned  with  man,  his  behavior,  and  his  achievements.  Culture 
is  clearly  the  fullest  context  of  all  human  activities.  It  is  the  vast  instru- 
mentality through  which  man  achieves  his  ends,  both  as  an  animal  that 
must  eat,  rest,  and  reproduce;  and  as  the  spiritual  being  who  desires  to 
extend  his  mental  horizons,  produce  works  of  art,  and  develop  systems 
of  faith.  Thus,  culture  is  at  the  same  time  the  minimum  mechanism  for 
the  satisfaction  of  the  most  elementary  needs  of  man's  animal  nature,  and 
also  an  ever-developing,  ever-increasing  system  of  new  ends,  new  values, 
and  new  creative  possibilities. 

An  understanding  of  what  this  reality  is,  how  it  works,  how  it  is  con- 
stituted and  determined,  is  indispensable  for  all  humanists  alike.  The 
archaeologist  and  the  historian,  who  have  to  reconstruct  the  past  cultural 
reality  from  partial  data,  monumental  or  documentary,  must  base  their 
reconstruction  on  the  laws  determining  the  relations  between  a  part  and 
the  whole,  between  economic  and  juridical  phenomena,  and  between  the 
structure  of  a  society  and  its  creative  output.  They  must  be  in  possession 
of  a  scientific  theory  of  culture,  or  else  indulge  in  more  or  less  inspired, 
sound,  but  always  intuitive  guesswork.  In  economics  and  the  science  of 
law  it  is  becoming  increasingly  recognized  that  the  processes  of  produc- 
tion, exchange,  and  consumption  do  not  happen  in  a  vacuum,  but  within 
a  cultural  context;  while  legislation,  the  behavior  of  judges  and  juries, 
and  the  effective  sanction  of  legal  rules  depend  upon  such  factors  as 
public  opinion,  economic  necessities,  the  level  of  education,  and  the  type 
of  religion  and  ethics  prevalent  in  a  society.  It  seems  hardly  even  necessary 

This  lecture  was  first  presented  before  the  Union  College  Symposium,  "Science 
Views  Man,"  March  1941,  and  published  in  American  Scientist,  October  1941 
(Vol.  29,  No.  3  and  4),  pp.  182-96;  and  January  1942  (Vol.  30,  No.  2),  pp. 
66-78,  and  is  reprinted  by  permission. 

man's  culture  and  man's  behavior 


to  stress  the  fact  that  the  student  of  contemporary  social  phenomena  and 
also  the  psychologist  must  attack  their  problems  within  the  real  context 
in  which  these  happen:  the  context  of  culture. 

Science — to  give  an  unpretentious  yet  clear  definition  or  reminder — is 
the  translation  of  experience  into  general  laws  which  have  predictive  value. 
We  have  to  inquire,  then,  whether  it  is  possible  to  establish  general  rules 
and  principles  concerning  cultural  process  and  product.  Such  rules,  to  be 
scientific,  must  be  inferred  from  observation  and  be  subject  to  experi- 
mental test.  They  must  be  generalizations  of  universal  validity.  It  is 
essential  to  have  statements  of  principle  which  remain  true  whether  ap- 
plied to  primitive  or  to  highly  developed  culture,  to  an  Arctic  community 
or  a  tropical  island  tribe  in  the  Pacific.  We  have  to  establish  clearly  deter- 
mined relations  between  cultural  variables  embodied  into  formulae  of 
general  applicability. 

From  the  slightly  different  point  of  view,  it  can  be  stated  that  science 
establishes  order  into  its  particular  subject  matter  by  isolating  the  relevant 
factors  and  forces.  It  will  then  be  necessary  to  prove  that  such  relevant 
factors  of  structure  and  forces  controlling  the  process  do  exist  in  the 
domain  of  culture.  Such  systems  of  relevant  concatination  would  give  us 
the  clue  for  the  observation  of  a  new  culture  and  the  means  of  describing 
it  adequately.  They  would  also  provide  the  common  measure  for  the 
comparative,  that  is,  theoretical  treatment  of  all  phenomena  of  organized 

The  legitimate  subject  matter  of  anthropology,  as  well  as  of  other  social 
sciences,  is  culture.  The  experimental  approach  to  this  subject  matter  must 
be  based  on  direct  observation  of  collective,  organized  behavior  through 
field  work.  By  field  work  I  mean  the  study  of  living  communities  and 
their  material  culture,  whether  at  a  low  level  of  development  or  within  our 
own  civilizations.  Such  study  must  be  guided  by  the  general  theory  of 
culture,  whereas  observation  has  to  be  stated  in  terms  of  general  prin- 
ciple. As  in  all  sciences,  so  also  here,  we  shall  have  to  inquire  whether 
the  final  test  of  applicability  through  planned  social  engineering  is  possible 
in  the  case  of  social  studies. 

I  am  purposely  omitting  from  my  definition  of  the  scientific  approach 
the  test  of  quantitative  approach,  the  feasibility  of  mathematical  or  semi- 
mathematical  formulation.  It  is  clear  that  wherever  phenomena  amenable 
to  counting  and  measuring  are  considered,  the  scientific  approach  would 
demand  this  type  of  operation.  Also,  in  the  rare  cases  where  statistics 
yield  sufficient  data  for  curves  or  equations,  these  instrumentalities  must 
be  used.  The  general  complexity  of  a  subject  matter  makes  it,  as  a  rule, 
less  amenable  to  quantitative  treatment.  In  all  such  treatment,  grave 
errors  are  introduced  and  increased  in  any  algebraic  manipulations  when- 
ever entities  are  counted  or  computed  that  are  not  really  identical.  The 
problem,  therefore,  of  identity  or  of  isolation  of  relevant  factors  and  of 



their  relations  is  one  which  must  be  solved  first,  and  then  only  can  we 
debate  whether  mathematical  formulations  are  likely  to  introduce  more 
clarity  or  more  presumptuous  error  into  our  arguments.  It  goes  without 
saying  that  in  vital  statistics,  in  certain  economic  transactions,  and  in  the 
description  of  technical  processes,  especially  at  higher  levels,  the  quantita- 
tive, as  well  as  the  mathematical,  procedures  have  been  already  employed 
and  cannot  be  left  out  of  consideration. 

As  regards  the  primary  character  of  science,  that  is,  the  cross-fertiliza- 
tion of  observed  fact  and  theoretical  argument,  the  anthropologist  has 
certain  initial  advantages  and  can  claim  certain  achievements.  Engaged 
as  he  is  in  the  study  of  primitive  cultures  for  which  there  are  no  historic 
records  and  very  little  archaeological  documentation,  the  anthropologist, 
by  the  very  nature  of  his  material,  was  driven  into  the  field.  He  had 
to  become  his  own  chronicler  and  to  establish  perhaps  the  first  laboratory 
of  social  science  in  methodical  ethnographic  researches  in  the  field.  Since 
observation  always  implies  theory,  we  find  in  modern  anthropological 
studies  that  exchange  of  inspiration  which  comes  from  the  simultaneous 
contact  with  facts  and  the  striving  to  subsume  them  under  general  prin- 

The  wide  range  of  cultural  diversities  was  another  motive  that  inspired 
the  scientific  bent  in  modern  anthropology.  Sound  generalization  must 
be  derived  from  comparison  and  the  use  of  the  inductive  method,  and 
here  again,  unless  there  is  some  theoretical  common  measure  of  compari- 
son, our  induction  fails. 

As  regards  applications,  anthropology  has  not  as  yet  many  achievements 
to  its  credit.  Nevertheless,  it  may  be  said  that  social  engineering  presents 
certain  facilities  and  a  degree  of  viability  when  it  comes  to  colonial  affairs 
lacking  under  our  own  modern  conditions.  The  colonial  power  has  a 
control,  legislative  and  administrative,  over  a  primitive  tribe,  far  greater 
than  that  admissible  in  a  democratic  commonwealth.  Totalitarian  experi- 
mentation, again,  is  not  based  in  its  sociological  aspect  on  a  scientific 
pohcy.  In  democratic  countries,  the  typical  politician  is  a  disturbing  link 
when  it  comes  to  the  scientific  guidance  of  pubUc  events.  He  is,  as  a  rule, 
more  keen  to  become  a  lawgiver  than  to  be  amenable  to  law  in  the 
scientific  sense. 

Obviously  anthropology  has  no  claims  whatsoever  to  deal  with  the 
scientific  problem  of  culture  alone.  It  had  certain  initial  advantages.  To 
use  them  fully  it  must,  first  and  foremost,  disclaim  some  spurious  pre- 
tenses. The  savages  are  not  the  only  representatives  of  man.  We  know 
full  well  that  modern  savagery  is  as  illuminating  as  its  primitive  version. 
Thus,  sociology,  as  soon  as  it  becomes  fully  infected  with  the  field-work 
habits  of  the  anthropologist,  will  have  at  least  quite  as  much  to  contribute 
to  the  scientific  theory  of  culture  as  its  humbler  collaborator.  Indeed,  in 
the  science  of  culture  we  would  fail  completely  as  anthropologists  unless 

man's  culture  and  man's  behavior 


full  cooperation  is  established  between  the  study  of  the  human  mind,  of 
modern  societies  and  cultures,  and  of  such  well-established  specialities  as 
jurisprudence  and  economics. 

The  nature  of  cultural  process 

Considering  culture  as  a  whole,  that  is,  at  all  levels  and  in  any  environ- 
ment, recognition  must  first  be  given  to  its  instrumental  character.  We 
might  survey  the  organization  of  an  Arctic  community,  a  tribe  living  in 
the  tropical  jungle,  a  horde  of  lowest  primitives,  such  as  the  Australian 
aborigines,  and  anywhere  and  everywhere  we  would  find  them  wielding 
a  body  of  implements,  following  rules  of  behavior,  cherishing  ideas  and 
beliefs,  engaging  through  all  this  in  activities  which  integrate  into  a  vast 
and  complex  instrumental  apparatus.  At  higher  levels  of  development,  in 
the  New  World  civilizations  of  Mexico  or  Peru,  in  ancient  Egypt  or  in 
modern  Europe,  the  apparatus  and  the  activities  are  more  highly  devel- 
oped, but  the  total  effect  is  instrumental  and  so  is  every  one  of  the  dif- 
ferential phases.  Man  everywhere  is  maintained  by  his  culture,  allowed 
to  reproduce,  as  well  as  instructed  and  assisted  in  this,  supplied  with 
techniques,  knowledge,  recreation,  art,  and  religion. 

Were  one  to  look  more  closely  at  any  particular  culture,  every  activity 
would  be  found  to  be  related  to  some  organization  or  other.  In  each  we 
would  find  a  group  cooperating,  linked  by  common  interests  and  a  pur- 
pose. Members  of  such  a  group  or  institution  own  conjointly  a  portion 
of  the  environment,  some  implements  or  machines,  and  dispose  of  a 
quota  of  national  wealth.  They  obey  prescribed  norms  of  conduct  and 
are  trained  in  particular  skills.  Through  their  activities  thus  normed 
and  implemented,  they  achieve  their  purpose  or  intentions,  known  to 
everybody  and  socially  recognized.  They  also  produce  an  impression  on 
the  environment,  social  and  physical;  they  achieve  results  which  can  be 
revealed  through  a  sociological  analysis. 

We  would  find  such  groups  in  the  homes  of  the  people  as  family  groups 
and  domestic  institutions,  and  that  the  food  supply  and  the  production  of 
goods  and  implements  is  the  result  of  such  organized  cooperative  work. 
The  temples  and  the  courts  of  law  are  maintained  and  run  by  groups  of 
people  organized  for  a  purpose,  moved  by  definite  motives  or  values,  and 
having  a  special  function  in  public  life. 

This  surface  impression,  dictated  by  sound  common  sense,  might  lead 
the  observer  to  the  statement  of  a  few  generalizations.  Culture  as  a  whole 
is  an  extensive  instrumental  system  of  organized  activities.  It  is  exercised 
by  a  system  of  related  institutions,  that  is,  groups  of  people  united  by 
common  interest,  endowed  with  material  equipment,  following  rules  of 
their  tradition  or  agreement,  and  contributing  towards  the  work  of  the 
culture  as  a  whole.  The  interests  that  supply  the  motive  power  and  dictate 
the  tasks  of  the  group  are  at  times  physiological,  as  in  food  production, 



domestic  life,  and  defense  mechanisms.  There  are,  however,  other  interests, 
values,  and  motives  connected  with  science  or  with  art  which  transcend 
any  biological  determinism.  We  are  thus  led  to  the  fuller  analysis  as  to 
what  the  drives  or  motives  of  human  beings  are,  and  also  as  to  the  prin- 
ciples and  forces  of  human  organization. 

As  regards  the  drives,  man  is  obviously  an  animal;  hence  his  organic 
needs  will  always  give  rise  to  a  permanent  biological  determinism  in  all 
behavior.  Men  eat,  sleep,  reproduce,  and  protect  their  body  from  exces- 
sive temperature,  as  well  as  from  physical  destruction.  There  is  a  mini- 
mum of  elementary  conditions  that  has  to  be  fulfilled  so  that  the  individ- 
ual organism  survives  and  the  group  retains  its  numbers.  Even  a  slight, 
but  progressive,  deterioration  of  the  healthy  organic  state  would  inevitably 
lead  to  cultural  extinction. 

It  is  equally  important  to  realize  that  human  beings  live  not  by  bio- 
logical drives  alone,  but  also  by  physiological  drives  molded  and  modi- 
fied by  culture.  As  regards  nutrition,  food  and  its  intake  are  not  a  mere 
exchange  between  man  and  environment.  In  a  primitive  tribe  or  a 
civilized  community,  there  is  an  organized  system  of  production,  dis- 
tribution, storing,  and  preparing,  which  provides  each  member  with  his 
meals.  Here  again,  consumption,  that  is,  the  intake  of  food,  is  fashioned 
by  the  taste,  taboos,  and  hygienic  rules,  which  partly  limit  and  partly 
redirect  the  normal  appetite.  Propagation  is  determined,  in  its  very  im- 
pulse, by  the  ideals  of  beauty  and  desirability  in  which  the  sex  impulse 
integrates  with  aesthetic,  economic,  and  social  considerations.  The  rules 
of  specific  taboo,  such  as  incest  and  exogamy,  as  well  as  of  preferential 
mating,  dictate  the  type  of  courtship,  whereas  the  production  of  children 
is  universally  defined  by  the  law  of  marriage.  Nor  are  the  results  of  prop- 
agation merely  biological.  The  extensive  systems  of  kinship  ties  and 
grouping  into  clans,  so  prevalent  in  primitive  communities,  are  the  trans- 
lation into  sociological  norms  of  the  results  of  biological  propagation. 
Bodily  exercise  is  determined  by  economic  labor  and  by  systems  of  sports, 
recreational  pursuits,  or  even  artistic  activities.  Thus,  man  everywhere  acts 
under  culturally  determined  incentives;  he  submits  to  the  norms  prescribed 
by  tradition;  he  cooperates  and  pools,  or  redistributes,  the  produce  of  his 

There  are  certain  phases  in  human  behavior  even  more  removed  from 
biological  fact  than  those  here  described.  In  a  primitive  tribe  there  are 
objects  of  magical  virtues  or  religious  sanctity  or  economic  value:  the 
famous  bull-roarers  of  central  Australia,  the  totemic  poles  of  the  north- 
western American  tribes,  or  the  millstones  known  from  Micronesia.  In 
order  to  understand  the  value  attached  to  such  objects  and  the  activities 
that  surround  them,  it  would  be  necessary  to  enter  a  world  of  mythological 
antecedents  or  social  and  economic  conventions.  We  would  have  to  learn 
the  meaning  of  the  dogmatic  principles  and  see  how  they  are  expressed 

man's  culture  and  man's  behavior 


in  ritual,  or  economic  transaction,  or  ethics.  To  understand  why  certain 
people  indulge  in  head-hunting  and  others  practice  cannibalism,  why  in 
certain  cultures  valuable  objects  are  produced  only  in  order  to  be  de- 
stroyed, would  obviously  require  consideration  of  the  formation  of  cul- 
tural value,  of  legal  principle,  as  well  as  the  native  conceptions  of  wealth, 
social  ranking,  and  the  realities  of  magical  or  religious  belief. 

Accordingly,  man  is  not  merely  impelled  by  hunger  and  thirst,  by 
love,  and  the  desire  to  sleep.  There  are  other  motives  connected  with 
ambition,  rank,  doctrine,  and  mythology  which  establish  as  powerful 
incentives  for  conduct  as  do  those  of  an  innate  drive.  Instrumentality 
obtains  throughout.  In  other  words,  it  is  always  found  that  a  human  being 
is  impelled  to  a  specific  activity  in  order  to  attain  a  desired  end.  It  is 
obvious,  however,  that  culture  solves  not  merely  the  simple  organic  prob- 
lems, but  creates  new  problems,  inspires  new  desires,  and  establishes  a  new 
universe  in  which  man  moves,  never  completely  free  from  his  organic 
needs,  but  also  following  new  ends  and  stimulated  to  new  satisfactions. 

All  this  does  not  imply  that  cultural  determinism  introduces  a  mere 
chaos  of  relativity  in  which  we  would  have  to  resort  to  the  arbitrary 
biddings  of  a  deus  ex  machina  of  some  specific  tribal  or  cultural  genius. 
We  shall  be  able  to  give  a  clear  definition  and  catalogue  of  the  biological 
needs  that  are  the  prime  movers  of  human  behavior.  We  shall  also  clearly 
establish  what  we  mean  by  derived  needs  or  instrumental  imperatives. 
Finally,  it  will  be  possible  to  show  that  the  integrative  values,  such  as 
ideas,  belief,  moral  rule,  are  also  determined  and  significant  through  their 
relation  to  culture  as  a  whole.  The  needs  of  the  organism  and  the  raw 
materials  supplied  by  the  environment  are  the  elements  of  the  primary, 
or  biological,  determinism.  The  indirect  cultural  situation,  however,  in 
which  the  raw  materials  are  obtained  and  elaborated  and  the  human  organ- 
ism adjusted  imposes  new  cultural,  that  is,  instrumental  and  integrative 
imperatives,  which  are  subject  to  determinism,  hence  also  to  scientific 

The  ability  to  establish  and  to  maintain  the  cultural  apparatus  confers 
enormous  advantages  on  mankind,  advantages  that  consist,  on  the  one 
hand,  in  a  safer  and  fuller  satisfaction  of  organic  needs;  and,  on  the 
other  hand,  in  the  gift  of  new  impulses  and  new  satisfactions.  Culture 
thus  satisfied  first  the  minimum  standard  of  living,  that  of  organic  sur- 
vival. It  also  adds  an  increased  artificial  standard  of  enjoyment,  in  which 
man  reaches  what  usually  is  described  as  intellectual,  artistic,  and  ethical 
pleasures  and  satisfactions. 

For  all  this  there  is  a  price  to  be  paid  in  terms  of  obedience  to  tradition. 
Man  must  submit  to  a  number  of  rules  and  determinants  that  do  not 
come  from  his  organism  but  from  submission  to  his  own  artifact  and 
machinery,  to  cooperation,  and  to  the  tyranny  of  words  and  other  sym- 
bols. The  oft-repeated  opposition  as  between  man  and  machine,  in  which 



man  is  often  described  as  the  slave  of  his  self-produced  mechanism, 
his  Frankenstein  monster,  contains  an  essential  truth.  Even  when  man 
is  not  enslaved  beyond  the  Hmits  of  real  necessity,  he  becomes  permanently 
dependent  on  his  artifacts,  once  he  has  started  to  use  them.  Cooperation, 
the  social  give  and  take,  implies  a  determined  quota  of  contribution  for 
which  man  receives,  generally,  a  larger  return,  but  has  to  remain  bound 
to  his  social  contract.  As  regards  symbolic  tradition,  it  does  not  always 
enslave,  but  it  invariably  redirects,  limits,  and  determines  human  behavior. 

The  biological  determinism  of  culture 

We  have  seen  that  the  biological  determinants  appear  in  every  culture 
and  that  they  are  invariably  refashioned  and  intertwined  with  other  mo- 
tives. The  problem  arises  in  what  sense  is  it  possible  to  isolate  and  define 
biological  determinism?  And  further,  in  what  way  is  it  related  to  more 
complex  cultural  phenomena?  The  answer  is  contained  in  Figure  1,  in 

A.  Impulse 

B.  Act 

drive  to  breathe;  gasp- 
ing for  air 

sex  appetite 


bladder  pressure 
colon  pressure 

intake  of  oxygen 

ingestion  of  food 
absorption  of  liquid 


escape  from  danger 
avoidance  by  effective 

C.  Satisfaction 
elimination  of  CO2  in  tissues 




restoration  of  muscular  and 

nervous  energy 
satisfaction  of  fatigue 
awakening  with  restored  en- 

removal  of  tension 
abdominal  relaxation 

return  to  normal  state 

Fig.  1.  Permanent  vital  sequences  incorporated  in  all  cultures 

which  the  main  types  of  biological  determinism  have  been  summed  up 
severally  and  concretely.  A  set  of  vital  sequences  is  there  listed  which, 
it  is  maintained,  are  always  incorporated  into  every  culture.  The  concept 
of  vital  sequence  means  that  the  central  activity  or  biological  act,  listed 
in  column  B,  must  be  performed  regularly  and  permanently  in  every 
culture.  This  part  of  the  performance  is  integrally  incorporated  into  cul- 
ture, with  modifications,  to  be  discussed  later,  as  regards  certain  prereq- 
uisites and  the  conditions  under  which  it  is  allowed  to  happen.  The 
drive,  listed  in  column  A,  invariably  receives  a  profound  modification, 
different  from  one  culture  to  another.  But  although  modified,  the  drive 
can  be  determined  partly  in  its  physiological  character,  partly  in  that  it 
is  always  connected  with  the  biological  act.  The  items  listed  in  column 

man's  culture  and  man's  behavior 


C  are  again  definable  in  terms  of  biological  fact:  satiation,  detumescence, 
the  freeing  of  the  organism  of  waste  matter,  the  restoration  of  muscular 
energy,  and  the  using  up  of  biochemical  tensions  through  muscular 
exercise  and  breathing. 

The  three  phases  can  be  defined  by  the  biochemist,  the  physicist,  and 
the  ecologist.  The  actual  intake  of  air  or  food;  the  act  of  conjugation; 
sleep,  rest,  nutrition,  or  excretion,  are  clearly  defined  activities,  in  which 
several  branches  of  natural  science  are  interested.  Thus,  the  concept  of 
vital  sequence  is  neither  vague  nor  devoid  of  substance.  It  refers  to  hap- 
penings within  the  human  organism  as  related  to  physical  and  cultural 
environment.  However  much  the  drive  or  satisfaction  might  be  refashioned 
by  culture,  both  drive  and  satisfaction  must  be  of  such  a  nature  as  to  lead 
to  the  performance  of  each  physiological  act,  adequate  in  terms  of  biology. 
We  see  here  that  the  concept  of  form  and  function  of  human  behavior  is 
included,  since  each  can  be  defined  in  terms  of  natural  science. 

The  vital  sequence  is  thus  the  projection  of  a  complex  cultural  reality 
onto  the  physiological  plane.  We  can  now  also  define  the  concept  of 
basic  need  over  and  above  that  of  drive.  In  each  culture  there  must  be 
systems  of  standardized  arrangements  which  allow  of  full,  regular,  and 
general  satisfaction  of  all  the  individual  drives.  The  basic  need  in  its 
several  varieties  can,  then,  be  defined  as  including  all  individual  drives 
that  have  to  be  satisfied  so  as  to  keep  the  organisms  of  a  community  in 
a  normal  state  of  healthy  metabolism.  The  non-satisfaction  of  any  or 
every  basic  need  would  imply  the  gradual  biological  deterioration  of  the 
group,  which,  if  cumulative,  would  lead  to  extinction.  As  regards  pro- 
creation, the  basic  need  here  requires  that  a  sufficient  incidence  of  effec- 
tive reproduction  should  occur  to  maintain  the  numerical  strength  of  a 
community.  In  any  culture  where  celibacy,  chastity,  vows,  abstinences, 
or  castration  exceeded  restricted  numerical  limits,  we  would  have  a  process 
of  gradual  extinction.  The  concept  of  basic  need  dilSfers  from  that  of  drive, 
in  that  it  refers  to  the  collective  exercise  of  individual  drives,  integrated 
with  reference  to  the  community  as  a  whole.  The  satisfaction  of  basic 
needs  is  predicated  with  reference  to  all  the  organisms,  to  environmental 
conditions,  and  to  the  cultural  setting  of  the  community.  It  need  not  be, 
perhaps,  stressed  that  in  the  study  of  cultural  realities,  whether  through 
field  work  or  in  theoretical  analysis,  we  do  not  resort  any  more  to  our 
analysis  in  terms  of  individual  drive,  but  have  to  rely  on  the  concept  of 
basic  need.  The  drive  — >  activity  —>  satisfaction  analysis  contains  an  ab- 
straction of  great  importance  for  the  foundations  of  a  sound  theory  of 
culture.  In  actual  research,  however,  we  do  not  meet  this  abstraction,  but 
are  faced  always  with  culturally  organized  satisfactions  of  integral  basic 

Figure  2  summarizes  concretely  and  in  a  highly  simplified  manner  the 
basic  needs  and  the  cultural  responses  to  them.  Its  meaning  will  become 



clearer  in  detail  as  our  argument  advances.  For  the  present,  it  is  clear 
that  it  corresponds  to  a  large  extent  to  the  list  of  drives.  Several  of  them, 
however,  have  been  compressed  into  one  entry  in  this  figure  as,  for  in- 
stance, the  need  of  solid  foods,  liquids,  and  intake  of  oxygen.  All  these 
are  associated  with  the  process  of  metabolism.  Another  important  point 
is  that  each  entry  is  to  be  considered  as  integrally  related  with  reference 
to  need  and  its  linked  responses.  For,  as  we  already  know,  in  the  human 
species  biological  motive  never  occurs  in  a  pure  and  isolated  form.  Human 
beings  breathe  in  closed  rooms  or  caves;  they  have  to  combine  breathing 
with  rules  of  pohteness  or  taboo,  since  human  breath  is,  in  some  cultures, 
regarded  as  sacred  and  in  others  as  dangerous.  Nutrition,  propagation,  or 

A.  Basic  needs     B.  Cultural  re-  A.  Basic  needs     B.  Cultural  re- 

sponses sponses 

1.  metabolism       commissariat  5.  movement  activities 

2.  reproduction     kinship  6.  growth  training 

3.  bodily  com-     shelter  7.  health  hygiene 

4.  safety  protection 

Fig.  2.  Basic  needs  and  cultural  responses 

bodily  comforts  occur  as  formed  habits.  Human  beings  eat  according  to 
a  definite  daily  sequence.  They  conjugate  in  accordance  with  rules  of  law 
and  morals,  or  else  against  them,  and  thus  under  cultural  conflict.  The 
need  for  bodily  comforts  does  not  arise  in  an  environmental  vacuum  and 
then  send  oflf  the  organism  in  search  of  a  satisfaction.  Savages  and  more 
sophisticated  beings  alike  wear  clothes,  carry  out  a  routine  of  cleanliness, 
live  in  habitations,  and  warm  themselves  at  some  permanent  sources  of 
warmth.  Thus  it  is  clear  that  the  stream  of  necessities  of  motives  arising 
out  of  each  need  flows,  as  it  were,  parallel  to  the  stream  of  culturally 
obtainable  satisfactions.  In  the  daily  round  of  life,  as  well  as  in  the  seasonal 
cycle,  the  human  being  normally  passes  through  a  routine  of  instrumental 
effort  and  of  prepared  satisfaction  in  which  biological  stimulus  and  organic 
effort  are  not  hooked  up  by  ad  hoc,  short-circuited  links  of  desire  and 
satisfaction,  but  are  interwoven  into  two  long  chains:  one  of  large-scale 
organized  work  on  culture  and  for  culture;  the  other,  a  systematic  draw- 
ing upon  or  consuming  of  already  prepared  cultural  benefits  and  goods. 

The  instrumental  phase  of  human  behavior 

To  make  the  last  argument  more  concrete  and  precise,  let  us  again  embody 
it  into  a  diagrammatic  presentation: 

Drive  (1) — Instrumental  performance — Culturally  defined  situation — 
Drive  (2) — Consummatory  act — Satisfaction  (meta-physiological) 

Fig.  3.  Instrumentally  implemented  vital  sequence 

man's  culture  and  man's  behavior 


This  is  obviously  a  much  more  accurate  and  less  abstract  representation 
than  the  vital  sequence  previously  shown  (Figure  2).  Certain  similarities 
between  the  two  obtain.  We  are  here  still  dealing  with  the  vital  sequence, 
one  which  includes  a  biological  activity.  There  are  in  culture,  as  will  be 
seen  later,  sequences  that  do  not  include  such  a  link.  In  this  figure  there 
is  a  definite  linkage  in  which  all  the  phases  are  determined  by  the  rela- 
tionship between  a  biological  drive  and  its  satisfaction. 

There  are,  however,  differences.  To  be  true  to  the  reality  of  typical 
culture  concatinations,  it  was  necessary  to  split  the  drive  into  two  parts. 
Drive  ( 1 )  is  the  instrumental  motive,  the  impulse  to  take  the  roundabout 
way  that  man  follows  when  he  produces  or  purchases  his  food,  prepares 
it,  and  places  it  on  his  table.  In  this  he  acts  to  a  certain  extent  like  the 
learning  animal  in  a  maze,  who  has  to  discover  and  to  use  the  devices 
which  supply  it  with  food.  Sex  leads  the  human  animal  not  to  conjuga- 
tion directly,  but  to  courtship  and,  in  many  cases,  to  marriage.  In  short, 
the  entire  training  of  the  human  organism  teaches  the  individual  to  obtain 
biological  ends  through  the  recognition,  appreciation,  and  the  handling  of 
the  appropriate  means. 

Drive  (2)  represents  the  culturally  determined  appetite.  Man  very 
often  does  not  eat  by  hunger,  hardly  ever  by  hunger  alone.  He  eats  at 
the  right  time,  the  right  place,  and  in  the  right  company.  His  tastes  and 
values  are  highly  shaped,  and  even  when  hungry,  he  will  not  touch  food 
defined  in  his  own  culture  as  disgusting,  unpalatable,  or  morally  repug- 
nant. "One  man's  meat  is  another  man's  poison":  my  cannibal  friends  in 
New  Guinea  developed  a  healthy  appetite  when  confronted  with  mis- 
sionary steak,  but  turned  away  in  disgust  from  my  tinned  Camembert 
cheese,  sauerkraut,  or  frankfurters,  which  latter  they  regarded  as  gigantic 
worms.  Again,  the  impulse  of  sex  which,  in  animal  societies,  occurs  be- 
tween any  two  healthy  organisms,  is  culturally  inhibited  by  such  taboos 
as  those  of  incest,  of  caste  prejudice,  and  to  a  lesser  extent,  by  appreciation 
of  rank,  class,  and  professional  or  racial  discrimination.  What  is  a  com- 
fortable means  of  sleeping  to  an  African  or  a  South  Sea  native  would  be 
torture  to  a  pampered  Parisian  or  New  Yorker.  Nor  would  our  beds, 
bathtubs,  and  sanitary  arrangements  be  convenient  or  even  usable  to  a 
native  from  the  jungle.  Thus  there  is  a  two-fold  redetermination  of 
physiological  drives.  Cultural  drive  occurs  in  two  forms,  and  each  of 
them  is  determined  by  the  tradition  in  which  an  organism  is  trained. 

Satisfaction  in  this  series  has  been  modified  by  an  adjective.  It  appears 
invariably  as  a  cultural  appetite  rather  than  as  the  satisfaction  of  a  pure 
physiological  drive.  Breathing,  as  carried  on  by  certain  European  com- 
munities within  the  non-ventilated  and  heavily  modified  atmospheres  of 
enclosed  rooms,  would  not  satisfy  an  Englishman  accustomed  to  a  super- 
abundance of  fresh  air.  The  satisfaction  of  appetite  by  food  discovered 
to  be  unclean  ritually,  magically,  or  in  terms  of  what  is  repugnant  in 



a  culture  does  not  lead  to  a  normal  state  of  satiety,  but  to  a  violent  reac- 
tion, including  often  sickness.  The  satisfaction  of  the  sex  impulse  in  an 
illicit  or  socially  dangerous  manner  produces  detumescence,  but  also 
conflicts  which  may  lead,  in  the  long  run,  to  functional  disease. 

Thus  culture  determines  the  situation,  the  place,  and  the  time  for  the 
physiological  act.  It  delimits  it  by  general  conditions  as  to  what  is  licit 
or  illicit,  attractive  or  repulsive,  decent  or  opprobrious.  Although  the 
act  itself,  as  defined  in  terms  of  anatomy,  physiology  and  interaction  with 
the  environment,  is  constant,  its  prerequisites  as  well  as  its  consequences 
change  profoundly. 

The  greatest  modification,  however,  in  this  new  diagram  consists  in 
the  insertion  of  the  two  terms:  Instrumental  phase — culturally  defined 
situation.  The  instrumental  phase,  as  we  shall  see  in  a  closer  analysis,  is 
always  an  integral  part  of  a  largely  organized  system  of  activities.  The 
instrumentalities  of  food  production  would  have  to  be  connected  with 
agriculture  or  hunting  or  fishing.  The  storing,  preparing,  and  consuming 
of  food  happen  in  a  home  or  a  club  or  a  restaurant.  The  instrumental 
phase  is  also  the  open  door  through  which  such  elements  of  culture  as 
artifacts,  norms,  and  cooperative  habits  enter  as  essential  constituents  of 
human  behavior. 

Let  us  consider  any  instrumental  phase.  Primitive  fire-making  subserves 
the  needs  of  cooking,  warmth,  and  light.  It  implies  the  element  of  artifact, 
the  knowledge  and  techniques  of  friction,  and  also  the  appreciation  of  the 
value  of  these  objects  and  activities.  In  any  food-producing  instrumental 
phase  we  would  discover  the  use  of  the  digging-stick,  the  hoe,  the  plough; 
weapons,  nets,  or  traps;  and  also  the  whole  system  of  technique  and  knowl- 
edge, of  cooperation  and  distribution  with  its  legal  and  customary  basis. 
In  every  instrumental  phase  of  preparatory  activities,  the  following  factors 
are  disclosed:  (1)  artifacts;  (2)  normed  behavior;  (3)  organized  coopera- 
tion; (4)  symbolic  communication  by  means  of  language  or  other  signs. 
These  four  cardinal  constituents  of  culture  are  present  in  each  phase  at 
any  level  of  civilization. 

One  simple  inference  occurs  immediately:  the  existence  of  culture 
depends  upon  the  mechanisms  and  activities  through  which  every  one 
of  these  four  constituents  is  produced  and  maintained,  as  well  as  generally 
distributed.  First,  therefore,  there  must  exist  in  every  culture  forms  or 
organization  through  which  the  material  substratum  of  culture,  that  is, 
the  body  of  artifacts,  are  produced,  distributed,  and  consumed.  The  eco- 
nomic aspect  of  a  culture  is  omnipresent. 

The  norms  of  behavior  have  to  be  known  and  they  have  to  be  enforced. 
Hence  again  we  can  postulate  that  some  mechanisms  for  the  statement, 
the  interpretation,  and  the  sanction  of  law  and  order  must  exist  in  every 
community.  Accordingly  at  higher  levels  there  exist  everywhere  legislative 
bodies,  courts  of  law,  and  forces  of  police.  In  primitive  communities 

man's  culture  and  man's  behavior 


such  special  institutions  may  be  absent  or  rudimentary.  Nevertheless,  the 
equivalents  of  codifications,  of  adjudication,  and  enforcement  are  never 
absent.  The  essence  of  custom  or  norm  is  that  it  coordinates  behavior; 
hence  it  has  to  be  known  by  all  those  who  cooperate.  Many  norms  curb 
innate  tendencies,  define  privileges  and  duties,  limit  ambition,  and  circum- 
scribe the  use  of  wealth.  There  is  invariably  a  tendency  to  circumvent 
them.  Together  with  the  need  of  force  implied  in  the  imperative  of  social 
order,  we  have  in  authority  a  principle  which  implies  the  existence  of  force 
socially  determined  and  physically  implemented.  We  find  everywhere, 
therefore,  the  political  principle,  that  is,  the  socially  or  culturally  deter- 
mined distribution  of  force  and  the  right  to  use  it. 

Finally,  we  found  that  communication,  through  language  and  other 
symbolic  means,  and  the  transmission  of  culture  are  essential  parts  of 
our  extended  instrumental  sequence.  Both  can  be  subsumed  under  the 
concept  of  training,  insofar  as  the  skills,  technical  and  social  rules  of 
conduct  have  to  be  implanted  in  the  growing  organism  and  maintained 
through  precept  and  exhortation.  Education,  at  all  levels,  can  be  differ- 
entiated into  schooling  and  adult  education.  Thus  the  derived  need  of 
training  or  fashioning  of  the  organism  for  its  cultural  tasks  is  one  which 
can  be  listed  as  the  fourth  derived  imperative  of  culture. 

Figure  4  gives  a  condensed  presentation  of  the  instrumental  needs  of 
culture  and  of  the  organized  responses  to  them.  We  have  only  to  add 

1.  The  cultural  apparatus  of  imple- 
ments and  consumers'  goods  must 
be  produced,  used,  maintained,  and 
replaced  by  new  production. 

3.  The  human  material  by  which  every 
institution  is  maintained  must  be  re- 
newed, formed,  drilled,  and  pro- 
vided with  full  knowledge  of  tribal 

2.  Human    behavior,    as    regards  its 
technical,  customary,  legal,  or  moral 
prescription  must  be  codified,  regu- 
lated in  action  and  sanctioned. 
Social  control 

4.  Authority  within  each  institution 
must   be    defined,    equipped  with 
powers,  and  endowed  with  means  of 
forceful  execution  of  its  orders. 
Political  organization 

Fig.  4.  Table  of  instrumental  imperatives 

that  the  instrumental  imperatives  have  the  same  degree  of  cogency  as 
those  derived  directly  from  biological  needs.  We  have  shown  that  all 
vital  sequences  occur  in  culture  through  instrumental  implementation. 
Hence  no  biological  need,  that  is,  no  need  of  the  community  as  a  whole, 
can  be  normally  and  regularly  satisfied  without  the  full  and  adequate 
working  of  the  instrumental  responses.  These  latter  constitute  together 
the  integral  mechanism  through  which  the  whole  set  of  basic  need  receives 
its  regular  flow  of  satisfaction  in  every  culture.  Since  even  the  simplest 
culture  raises  the  level  of  the  quantitative  and  qualitative  standard  of 



living  and  thus  alienates  any  human  group  from  the  direct  hand-to-mouth 
satisfaction  by  contact  with  environment,  the  breakdown  of  the  cultural 
machinery  would  imply  at  least  gradual  extinction. 

Confirmation  of  this  fact  is  evident  when  we  look  at  the  evidence  of 
historical  facts.  A  serious  breakdown  in  the  economic,  poHtical,  or  legal 
order  which  usually  also  implies  deterioration  in  the  systems  of  knowledge 
and  ethics,  leads  human  groups  to  disorganization  and  to  the  sinking  of 
the  cultural  level.  The  breakdown  of  many  simpler  cultures  under  the 
impact  of  Western  civilization  and  the  extinction  of  many  racial  groups 
supply  one  sample.  The  ever-recurrent  decay  of  once  flourishing  cultures, 
which  are  then  replaced  by  others  or  else  enter  a  period  of  Dark  Ages,  is 
another  case  in  point.  Even  today  we  are  faced  with  a  serious  threat  to 
culture,  that  of  total  war,  which  is  waged  not  merely  in  terms  of  destruc- 
tion and  physical  aggression,  but  also  as  economic  war  against  the  systems 
of  production  and,  above  all,  nutritive  maintenance.  As  propaganda,  it 
aims  at  the  breaking  down  of  moral  and  social  resistance  through  the 
sapping  of  the  constitutional  principles  of  organization,  both  as  regards 
defense  and  the  normal  working  of  institutions. 

The  emergence  of  culture 

A  clear  definition  of  the  symbolic  process  is  still  lacking.  Its  existence  was 
implied  throughout,  especially  in  our  statements  concerning  the  codes  of 
human  behavior,  the  rules  of  conduct,  the  educational  processes  which 
largely  consist  in  verbal  instruction,  and  the  inculcation  of  systems  of 

It  will  be  helpful  to  turn  once  more  to  very  simple  cultural  conditions 
that  are  on  the  borderline  between  the  precultural  behavior  of  man,  the 
animal,  and  the  emergence  of  truly  cultural  conduct.  From  the  well- 
known  facts  of  animal  training,  which  have  been  now  raised  to  a  system 
of  principles  embodied  in  the  psychology  of  stimulus  and  response,  it  is 
established  that  apes  and  lower  animals  can  acquire  habits  and  be  taught 
to  use  artifacts.  It  is  a  fair  assumption  that  precultural  man,  living  under 
conditions  of  nature,  was  led  frequently  to  the  instrumental  use  of 
material  objects.  Whenever  he  was  placed,  with  a  fair  degree  of  regularity, 
under  conditions  resembling  those  of  an  experimental  maze  in  which  the 
rat  or  the  guinea  pig  is  being  trained,  he  probably  developed  individual 
habits.  An  individual  habit  implies  at  least  the  development  of  a  skill, 
the  appreciation  of  the  instrumental  value  of  an  object  and,  finally,  the 
retention  of  both  skill  and  appreciation.  This  integral  retention,  diagram- 
matically  embodied  in  our  presentation  of  instrumentally  implemented 
series,  corresponds  to  the  concept  of  reinforcement,  so  fruitfully  used  by 
Clark  Hull  and  other  contemporary  psychologists,  as  the  pivotal  principle 
of  animal  learning.  It  is  not  difficult  to  see  that  reinforcement,  which 
means  the  integral  retention  by  an  animal  organism  of  a  definite  sequence 

man's  culture  and  man's  behavior 


in  instrumental  activities,  contains  two  concepts  of  great  importance  to 
the  student  of  culture,  the  concept  of  symbol  and  that  of  value. 

Reinforcement,  however,  accounts  only  for  the  formation  of  habits, 
that  is,  of  individual  acquired  types  of  behavior.  As  long  as  habit  is  not 
infectious  or  public,  it  is  not  a  real  unit  of  culture.  Culture  begins  when 
the  transition  between  habit  and  custom  is  made.  Custom  can  be  defined 
as  a  habit  made  public  by  communication  from  one  individual  to  others 
and  transferable,  that  is,  capable  of  being  ingrained  by  one  generation 
on  to  the  next. 

We  have  to  introduce  two  more  factors  as  indispensable  prerequisites 
for  the  transformation  of  habits  into  customs.  First,  the  existence  of  a 
group  in  permanent  contact  and  related  on  the  genealogical  principle 
must  be  assumed.  We  have  further  to  assume  the  existence  of  means  of 
communication  which  would  make  possible  discourse  and  symbolic  train- 
ing. The  means  of  communication,  moreover,  have  to  be  linked  and 
standardized  into  traditional  statements  that  can  be  transmitted  from 
the  elder  generation  to  the  younger.  Thus  it  is  necessary  to  add  two  more 
factors  to  those  previously  listed. 

And  once  more  we  come  upon  the  same  list  of  the  cardinal  constituents 
of  culture:  artifacts,  skills,  that  is,  norms  of  behavior;  organized  groups; 
and  means  of  communications,  that  is,  symbols  and  theoretical  systems 
of  precept  and  value. 

The  raw  materials  of  both  sociability  and  symbolism  can  also  be 
assumed  as  pre-existent  to  the  actual  emergence  of  culture.  The  long 
infancy  of  the  human  species  and  the  formation  of  families  and  of  family 
groups  was  undoubtedly  precultural.  These  are  mere  assumptions  for 
which  proof  need  not  be  given,  but  which  are  essentially  plausible. 

The  same  condition  is  evident  with  respect  to  the  raw  materials  of 
symbolism.  If  precultural  man  was  occasionally  driven  into  developing 
habits,  his  behavior  was  determined  by  what  the  modern  psychologist  calls 
conditioned  stimuli.  Finding  himself  regularly  within  a  context  of  situa- 
tion and  under  the  urge  of  a  biological  drive  with  no  direct  satisfaction, 
he  would  resort  to  instrumental  behavior.  In  this  the  instrument,  a 
piece  of  wood  or  stone,  and  the  association  of  previous  effective  activity 
with  this  object  would  provide  the  cue  or  the  conditioned  stimulus  to 
action.  The  fact  that  an  environmental  sign  directs  the  organism  to 
action  is  essentially  symbolic. 

Thus  we  can  say  that  the  artifact  itself,  the  typical  context  of  circum- 
stance, the  habitual  technique,  all  these  functioned  symbolically,  as  well 
as  instrumentally.  It  may  also  be  assumed  that  the  example  of  a  perform- 
ance was  an  act  instilled  with  demonstrative  symbolism.  When  this  is 
added  to  such  symbolic  raw  material  as  the  bodily  or  facial  expression  of 
emotions,  the  deictic  or  otherwise  significant  gesture,  and  the  natural 
sound  symbols  characteristic  of  many  animal  performances,  it  is  apparent 



that  symbolism,  as  significant  direction  of  activity  between  one  organism 
and  another,  may,  indeed,  must  have  been,  precultural. 

This  allows  us  to  define  our  idea  of  cultural  emergence  by  relating  a 
number  of  empirically  substantial  facts.  The  birth  of  culture  probably 
occurred  as  a  gradual,  maybe  age-long,  process.  It  was  not  the  miraculous 
occurrence  of  sudden  speech  or  intelligence  or  invention  or  social  organi- 
zation. It  consisted  instead  of  the  all-round  systematic  and  effective  inte- 
gration of  the  partial  increments  of  cultural  behavior.  As  soon  as  the 
use  of  artifacts,  the  employment  of  skills  gradually  tended  to  become 
cooperative;  in  the  measure  as  cooperation  led  to  the  development  of 
significant  signs  and  sounds,  entering  into  concerted  work  as  an  integral 
system  of  links;  and  these  systems  of  behavior  became  fixed  into  tradition; 
culture  was  born.  The  pervading  principle  of  cultural  behavior  might 
perhaps  be  subsumed  under  the  concept  of  value. 

Value  means  a  deep  change  in  the  whole  organism,  especially,  no 
doubt,  in  the  nervous  system.  It  refers  to  all  those  attitudes  which  make 
for  the  retention  of  habits,  the  submission  to  traditional  rules,  the  appre- 
ciation of  and  permanent  grip  upon  material  objects,  and  the  adequate 
action  and  reaction  in  terms  of  an  articulate  sound  or  formally  determined 
symbol.  This  latter  aspect  became,  from  the  very  outset,  embodied  in 
systems  of  theoretical  knowledge,  of  behef,  and  of  mythological  or 
historical  tradition. 

The  nature  of  symbolic  interaction 

Symbolism,  as  a  type  of  human  activity,  as  a  means  of  communication, 
and  as  the  basic  substratum  of  tradition,  needs  some  further  considera- 
tion. It  is  necessary,  first,  to  make  clear  the  relation  between  the  instru- 
mental use  of  a  device  and  its  symbolic  function.  Insofar  as  an  activity  is 
performed  as  a  means  to  an  end — objects  handled,  devices  constructed  and 
used — it  can  be  stated  that  the  organism  is  engaged  in  the  instrumental 
use  of  the  apparatus.  Even  when  a  certain  device  is  used  in  a  cooperative 
manner,  and  there  occurs  an  exchange  of  services  in  the  concerted  per- 
formance of  the  task,  it  can  be  stated  that  the  cooperating  organisms  are 
instrumentally  related.  But  the  same  artifacts,  devices,  and  habits  may  act 
as  signals  or  cues.  One  need  only  think  of  direct  signaling  at  a  distance 
or  of  one  member  of  a  hunting  or  fishing  team  following  the  lead  of 
another  when  he  sees  him  perform  an  activity  or  is  made  aware  of  it  by 
a  symbol.  In  this  case  the  act,  the  object,  or  the  sound  play  a  symbolic 
role  within  the  context  of  concerted  action. 

Even  when  we  approach  cooperative  processes  fully  learned  and  well 
practiced,  the  distinction  between  the  symbol  and  the  instrumental  func- 
tion of  any  partial  performance  can  be  shown  as  relevant.  It  is  only 
necessary  to  remember  that  no  cooperative  situation,  no  concerted  human 
action  is  so  fully  a  matter  of  routine  that  the  need  for  reorientation  or 

man's  culture  and  man's  behavior 


redirection  would  not  enter.  This  need  is  always  subserved  by  the  occur- 
rence of  a  symbolic  gesture  or  a  sound  which  thus  is  an  essential  element 
in  all  the  improvised,  reoriented,  readjusted  phases  of  human  coopera- 
tion. The  distinction  between  the  symbolic  and  instrumental  function  is 
even  clearer  in  the  process  of  learning.  The  relevant  cues  or  conditioned 
stimuli  which  lead  the  precultural  animal  or  the  learning  human  individ- 
ual through  the  maze  of  a  new  situation  stand  out  as  the  constant  or 
unvarying  signposts  regularly  encountered  on  the  path  to  achievement. 
They  are  the  symbolic  elements  which,  together  with  the  drive,  the 
intrinsic  instrumentality  within  the  material  setting,  and  the  final  rein- 
forcement, lead  to  the  acquisition  of  the  habit. 

The  clear  appreciation  of  the  exact  nature  of  symbolism  in  terms  of 
learning,  of  cooperation,  and  of  environmental  factors  will  allow  us  rapidly 
to  indicate  the  lines  on  which  typical  symbolic  systems,  of  which  language 
is  the  most  important,  gradually  develop.  Here,  again,  the  misconception 
that  a  sound  or  a  gesture  "is  made  to  stand  for  something  else"  must  be 
restated  into  the  correct  assumption  that  the  symbolic  object  or  act  is 
invariably  a  stimulus  to  action.  The  raw  material  for  this  can  be  found 
once  more  in  the  prearticulate  sounds  of  infants.  The  cry  of  an  infant 
is  symbolic  in  that  within  the  social  context  of  domesticity,  it  summons 
another  person,  the  mother,  father,  or  nurse,  and  commands  attention 
and  help.  Insofar  as  such  sounds  can  be  discriminated  by  those  in  charge  as 
cries  for  food,  for  cleansing,  or  as  symptoms  of  pain  or  anger,  they  are 
significant.  Significance  always  depends  on  the  context  of  situation,  in- 
cluding the  principal  actors,  on  the  requirements  of  one  organism,  and 
on  the  readiness  of  adequate  response  by  others. 

Exactly  how  articulate  sounds  developed  from  prearticulate  grunts, 
exclamations,  cries,  or  calls,  can  be  left  for  the  consideration  of  linguists, 
especially  those  who  prefer  to  hunt  for  unverifiable  hypotheses  rather 
than  to  study  the  general  determinism  of  language.  The  fact  is  that 
articulation  has  occurred  and  that  it  probably  occurred  very  early  in 
the  development  of  human  culture. 

The  assumption  of  the  emergence  of  articulate  words,  however,  does 
not  imply  the  slightest  divergence  from  our  concept  of  symbolism.  The 
articulate  word,  exactly  as  a  material  object,  a  gesture,  or  a  prearticulate 
sound,  is  invariably  the  signal  to  action.  On  the  prototype  of  infantile 
cries  the  development  of  significant  names  for  members  of  a  cooperative 
group  can  be  assumed,  and  by  names  we  simply  mean  here  an  unequivo- 
cal means  of  attracting,  mobilizing,  selecting  a  definite  individual.  Again, 
on  the  pattern  of  significant  gestures,  of  the  pointing  out  of  an  object, 
we  can  assume  that  articulate  names  for  important  factors  of  the  environ- 
ment gradually  came  into  being.  The  distinction  between  stone  and  wood, 
between  plants  and  earth,  between  food  and  non-edible  objects,  became 
incorporated  into  the  human  vocabulary.  Such  nominal  elements  in  Ian- 



guage  function  pragmatically  in  the  concerted  action  of  all  primitives. 
Both  for  rapid  instruction  and  effective  cooperation  they  are  indispensable. 
It  can  also  be  seen  here  how  grammatical  categories  are  determined,  not 
by  the  logic  of  reflection,  but  by  distinctions  inherent  in  the  pragmatism 
of  concerted  action  on  a  sociological  basis.  The  modification  of  nouns; 
that  is,  the  various  typical  relations  of  ownership,  dependence,  physical 
position  in  space,  were  naturally  implemented  by  the  grammatical  instru- 
mentahties  of  accidence  and  of  prepositional  determination. 

Certain  qualifications  of  substances  to  be  used,  "cold"  or  "warm," 
"dry"  or  "wet,"  "hard"  or  "soft"  had  to  be  verbally  implemented,  since 
the  definition  of  state  or  quahty  or  utility  as  raw  materials  for  an  artifact 
must  early  have  become  part  of  instruction  in  training,  in  cooperation, 
and  in  planning. 

Another  type  of  influencing  by  signals  must  have  been  the  imperative 
call  to  action,  increasingly  diversified  and  differentiated.  Here  also  it  is 
quite  easy  to  see  how  articulate  words  became  only  more  viable  and  effec- 
tive substitutes  for  gesture  and  prearticulate  sound.  Verbs  referring  to 
forms  of  movement,  the  various  modifications  in  the  behavior  of  the 
human  hand  or  leg,  may  have  been  first  to  appear.  And  here  also  the 
grammatical  categories,  in  order  to  be  effective  in  instruction,  had  to 
express  temporal,  as  well  as  modal,  modifications.  The  grammatical  forms 
of  conjugation  must  be  related  to  commands  and  instruction  concerning 
action  in  the  pragmatic  use  of  language  as  between  elders  and  children 
and  co-workers  in  concerted  activity.  The  sociological  basis  of  language 
obviously  implies  pronominal  elements,  inherent  both  in  the  modifications 
of  verbs,  insofar  as  the  action  is  either  that  of  self  or  of  thou  or  of  the 
other,  and  in  the  determination  of  nouns  in  possessive  relations.  Thus, 
vocabulary  and  grammar  alike  can  be  related  to  the  categories  of  socially 
organized,  traditionally  defined,  and  coordinated  systems  of  cultural 

The  main  source  of  scientific  insight  into  the  nature  of  language  as  an 
ingredient  of  all  human  activities  is  found  in  the  study  of  lingustic  learn- 
ing by  children  and  in  the  observation  of  how  words  are  used  pragmat- 
ically; that  is,  how  they  function  in  human  work. 

Language  in  proleptic  instructions  always  refers  to  a  future  situation 
of  activity,  in  that  its  understanding  is  always  based  on  a  past  experience 
of  words  used  within  a  similar  context.  The  narrative,  in  its  almost 
indefinite  range  of  varieties,  is  comprehensible  only  through  the  fact  that 
it  refers  to  a  past  context,  partially  known  but  linguistically  supple- 
mented by  certain  variables  also  famiUar  from  previous  experiences.  One 
type  of  narrative,  the  one  couched  in  the  most  general  terms,  is  neither 
more  nor  less  than  scientific  theory.  For  scientific  theory  is,  as  we  know, 
the  most  general  statement  of  a  type-situation  empirically  formulated 

man's  culture  and  man's  behavior 


with  the  proleptic  intent  of  future  guidance.  Historical  or  traditional 
narratives  very  often  refer  to  important  events  from  the  past,  which 
have  established  a  precedent  in  the  legal,  moral,  or  religious  sense.  The 
religious  narrative  or  the  sacred  story  or  mythology  of  a  tribe  very  often 
is  an  account  of  revelation;  that  is,  of  direct  contact  between  man  and 
the  supernatural  universe. 

The  integrative  imperatives  of  human  behavior: 
knowledge  and  belief 

It  has  just  been  shown  that  the  understanding  of  the  symbolic  function 
of  language  and  other  standardized  signs  leads  directly  to  the  existence 
of  systems  of  knowledge  and  belief.  Any  system  of  signs,  gestures,  or 
sounds  which,  through  instrumental  behavior,  supplies  the  means  of  defin- 
ing an  object,  of  reconstructing  a  process,  of  standardizing  a  technique, 
can  be  regarded  as  a  primitive  form  of  scientific  theory.  Indeed,  such  a 
symbolic  system,  in  its  very  simplest  form,  had  to  be  precise  in  the  sense 
that  it  provided  a  correct  formula  for  the  permanent  incorporation  and 
transmission  of  the  technical  achievement  to  which  it  refers.  The  system 
was  effective  because  the  drive  of  the  physiological  need  was  transferred 
and  permanently  linked  to  the  objects  and  habits  which  adequately, 
although  indirectly,  subserved  the  satisfaction  of  the  drive. 

Such  systems  could  be  neither  prelogical  nor  mystical.  Principles  of 
human  knowledge  based  on  true  experience  and  on  logical  reasoning  and 
embodied  partly  in  verbal  statements,  partly  in  the  context  of  situation 
to  which  these  refer,  exist  even  among  the  lowest  primitives.  They  must 
have  existed  from  the  very  beginning  of  cultural  tradition.  Had  this  at 
any  moment  lapsed  into  mysticism  or  false  interpretation  of  fact;  or  had 
it  sinned  against  logic — that  is,  the  principle  of  identity — human  actions, 
techniques,  and  economic  routine  would  have  become  false  and  useless, 
and  the  culture  would  have  been  destroyed  in  its  very  foundations. 
Knowledge,  then,  as  the  symbolic  system  organizing  all  the  phases  of 
reasonable  human  behavior — that  is,  behavior  in  which  experience  is 
logically  integrated — is  a  permanent  and  essential  imperative  of  human 

Knowledge,  however,  introduces  certain  new  elements  into  the  organic 
diathesis  of  man.  Knowledge  implies  foresight,  calculation,  and  systematic 
planning.  In  this  it  not  only  reveals  to  man  how  to  achieve  certain  ends, 
but  also  lays  bare  the  fundamental  uncertainties  and  Hmitations  of  human 
planning,  of  his  calculations,  and,  indeed,  of  his  very  existence.  The  very 
fact  that  man,  however  primitive,  becomes  accustomed  to  thinking  clearly, 
to  looking  ahead,  and  also  to  remembering  the  past,  makes  him  also  aware 
of  failures  and  potential  dangers. 

We  have  constantly  emphasized  that  the  birth  and  development  of 



symbolism  always  occurs  under  the  control  of  organic  drives.  Man 
becomes  reasonable  because  his  instrumental  actions  contain  a  strong 
dynamic,  that  is,  emotional,  tone.  The  principles  of  knowledge  are 
always  controlled  by  desire,  by  anticipation,  and  by  hope.  Their  counter- 
part, the  apprehension  of  failure,  is  equally  strongly  charged  with  emo- 
tions of  fear,  anxiety,  or  potential  frustration.  Man,  even  as  his  knowledge 
increases,  becomes  more  and  more  aware  of  the  fact  that  his  desire  is 
often  thwarted,  his  expectations  subject  to  chance,  that  there  are  always 
grave,  incalculable  potential  dangers  lurking  ahead. 

Man  experiences  ill  health  and  physical  disability  in  his  own  life.  He 
sees  kinsmen,  friends,  and  neighbors  removed  by  death  or  disabled  by 
disease.  He  often  finds  that  the  best  laid  plans  are  crossed  and  disorganized 
by  the  unexpected  intervention  of  chance  and  fate.  Calamity  or  mis- 
fortune affect  the  individual  and  disorganize  the  group. 

What  new  integrative  imperative  could  be  assumed  to  arise  under  such 
circumstances?  The  need  arises  from  the  conflict  between  hope — that  is, 
positive  expectation — and  anxiety,  or  anticipation  of  possible  failure. 
Any  positive  affirmations  of  success,  stability,  and  continuity  would  satisfy 
this  need.  Here  again  we  can  indicate  psychological  foundations  for  the 
occurrence  of  such  hopeful  signs.  A  chance  association,  which  might  act 
as  prognostic  or  be  interpreted  as  good  augury,  could  be  described  as  the 
secondary  symbolism  of  good  omen.  The  normal  reliance  of  the  individual, 
especially  the  infant,  on  the  protection  of  the  group,  might  provide  the 
prototype  of  the  assumption  of  supernatural  powers  in  those  who  are 
older,  stronger,  and  more  famiHar  with  tradition.  As  regards  death,  the 
assumption  of  its  being  but  an  imaginary  event,  whereas  reality  consists 
in  the  survival  of  the  soul,  is  brought  near,  not  only  by  the  natural 
strength  of  the  general  impulses  of  "self-preservation,"  but  also  by  the 
collateral  evidence  of  dreams,  visions,  and  strong  emotional  memories. 

Thus  the  dogmatic  affirmations  of  religion  and  magic  are  brought  near 
to  us  simply  as  standardized  natural  reactions  of  the  human  organism 
under  conditions  of  conflict.  The  essence  of  much  reUgious  belief  is  the 
affirmation  of  man's  dependence  on  Providence;  that  is,  on  some  powerful, 
partly  benevolent,  partly  dangerous  principle  pervading  the  universe.  The 
other  equally  important  source  of  religious  attitudes  is  the  affirmation  of 
human  immortality.  Magic  is,  in  its  substance,  the  reinterpretation  of  the 
secondary  causation  in  terms  of  good  as  against  bad.  It  is  thus  the  ritual 
production  of  favorable  antecedents  of  luck  and  success. 

Clearly,  neither  religion  nor  magic  are  mere  dogmatic  affirmations.  Man 
believes  in  order  to  act  with  greater  confidence.  He  also  has  to  enact  his 
behef.  Accordingly  to  understand  any  magico-religious  system,  it  is 
necessary  to  study  ritual  as  the  enactment  of  dogmatic  reality,  and  ethics 
as  the  moral  consequences  of  man's  dependence  upon  supernatural  powers. 

This  is  not  the  place  to  enter  into  the  details  of  the  various  religious 

man's  culture  and  man's  behavior 


systems  from  Totemism  to  Christianity,  or  to  study  minutely  the  varieties 
of  magic,  sorcery,  and  witchcraft.^ 

We  are  here  interested  primarily  in  the  definition  of  knowledge,  reli- 
gion, and  magic,  as  integrative  systems  in  culturally  regulated  behavior. 
Let  me  briefly  sum  up  the  place  of  integrative  imperatives  within  the 
theory  of  the  hierarchy  of  needs  here  developed.  The  biological  need  was 
defined  as  the  conditions  imposed  by  the  interaction  of  the  human  organ- 
ism and  environment  upon  behavior.  These  conditions  determine  the 
permanent  incorporation  of  refashioned  vital  sequences  into  every  par- 
ticular culture.  These  needs  are  definable  in  terms  of  biology,  and  we  have 
to  put  them  on  the  map  of  anthropological  studies  insofar  as  they  are 
all  invariably  incorporated,  and  also  to  the  degree  that  they  impose  defi- 
nite limits  upon  human  conduct.  The  concept  of  instrumental  need 
corresponds  to  the  regular  occurrence,  and  the  permanent  incorporation 
in  every  culture,  of  those  types  of  activity  which  we  have  defined  as 
economic,  educational,  legal,  and  political. 

The  concept  of  integrative  need  declares  that  in  every  culture  coherent 
systems  of  a  symbolic  nature  are  found.  There  exist  fixed  and  standardized 
texts,  verbal  or  written.  These  texts  are  closely  related  with  recurrent 
organized  performances.  These  texts  also  appear  in  the  processes  of 
training  the  young  and  adolescent  members;  that  is,  the  processes  of 
their  incorporation  into  organized  groups  or  institutions.  The  continuity 
of  culture,  its  transmission,  and  its  maintenance  depend  upon  the  existence 
of  those  residues  of  action,  crystallized  into  symbolic  texts,  diagrams,  or 
inscriptions.  The  real  functional  identity  of  such  symbolic  systems  is  due 
to  their  having  been  developed  as  a  by-product  of  experience  and  action. 
It  may  be  the  experience  of  training  or  the  gradual  adjustment  of  symbolic 
instrumental  ability  and  activity  in  cooperation.  Once  formed,  symbols 
can  and  have  to  be  used,  both  in  the  context  of  the  pragmatic  situation 
and  outside  it. 

It  is  thus  evident  that  what  is  usually  described  as  tradition  closely 
corresponds  to  our  concept  of  integrative  imperatives.  We  have  here 
linked  up  this  concept  with  the  other  determinants  of  human  behavior, 
and  assigned  it  a  definite  place  and  function  within  the  hierarchy  of  needs. 
The  integrative  imperatives  are  clearly  as  stringent  as  the  instrumental 
ones.  A  lapse  in  knowledge  and  deterioration  thereof  would  undermine 
the  techniques  of  production,  as  well  as  the  organization  of  all  productive 
enterprise.  The  deterioration  of  belief  and  of  ethics  derived  from  it  would 
mean  the  gradual  disorganization  of  groups,  as  well  as  the  occurrence  of 
conflicts  and  disruptive  forces.  If  knowledge,  belief,  and  ethics  were 
progressively  lowered  in  any  culture,  then  individual  initiative  and  respon- 

^  The  principles  here  developed  will  be  found  more  fully  documented  in  the  little  book 
entitled  The  Foundations  of  Faith  and  Morals,  Oxford  University  Press,  1936.  [See  Chapt. 
15  of  Sex,  Culture,  and  Myth.] 



sibility,  the  social  loyalties,  and  the  organization  of  the  institutions  would 
perforce  disappear,  and  thus  leave  the  organism  exposed  to  starvation, 
discomfort,  and  dangers.  "We  see  clearly  that  all  three  classes  of  imperative 
— basic,  instrumental,  and  integrative — are  linked,  supplementary,  and 
equally  stringent. 

It  may  be  profitable  to  supplement  the  previous  two  diagrams  of  vital 
sequences,  plain  and  instrumentally  implemented,  by  diagrammatic  rep- 
resentations of  cultural  sequence  in  which  there  is  no  physiological  link, 
and  the  act  itself  is  of  a  purely  cultural  nature.  This  obviously  does  not 
mean  that  such  cultural  sequences  are  not  related  to  basic  needs.  Such 
a  relationship  invariably  does  exist.  Yet,  if  we  were  to  envisage  a  culture 
in  which  specialization  has  reached  the  point  where  a  large  number  of 
people  live  exclusively  by  instrumental  contributions,  it  would  be  seen 
that  a  great  many  sequences  of  activities  start  with  a  motive  and  move 
through  an  instrumental  phase  to  a  performance  which  has  only  a  derived 
or  instrumental  value.  The  individual  satisfaction  as  well  as  the  drive,  in 
such  a  case,  are  determined  by  the  fact  that  achievements  and  contribu- 
tions of  this  type  receive  an  economic  reward  from  their  realization,  by 
which  the  individual  can  satisfy  all  his  basic  necessities.  If  we  think  of 
the  professional  activities  of  a  doctor  or  a  lawyer  or  a  clergyman,  or  of 
the  type  of  work  done  in  a  factory  by  the  business  members,  overseers, 
and  workers,  it  would  be  found  that  it  fits  directly  into  our  diagram  of 
culturally  instrumental  sequence. 

Motive  (economic  interest) — Cultural  setting  of  instrumental  institution 
— Act  (professional  service  or  contribution  of  labor) — Satisfaction  (eco- 
nomic and  social  reward) 

Fig.  5.  Culturally  instrumental  sequence 

In  this  series  we  obviously  have  simplified  matters.  The  motive  often 
includes  elements  of  ambition,  advancement,  constructive  interest.  The 
satisfaction  is  invariably  in  terms  of  economic  reward,  since  no  man  can 
work  without  maintenance.  But  it  includes  also  the  satisfaction  of  self- 
regard,  the  admiration  enjoyed  by  a  good  worker,  a  constructive  engineer, 
or  creative  scientist  or  artist.  The  middle  links  of  our  series  mean  that  in 
order  to  satisfy  the  motive  for  employment,  the  workman,  the  professional, 
or  the  business  man  have  to  find  some  organized  place  of  work.  They  can 
perform  their  act  of  professional  or  labor  service  only  in  a  consulting 
room,  business  office,  laboratory,  workshop,  or  factory;  in  short,  an  insti- 
tution. All  such  series  of  purely  instrumental  contributions  obviously  fit 
into  our  concept  of  vital,  instrumentally  implemented  sequence.  They 
are  really  part  of  the  extremely  complex  instrumental  phase,  which,  as 
already  noted,  becomes  in  highly  differentiated  cultures  a  long  chain  of 
hnked  instrumental  cooperation. 

We  could  have  sHghtly  modified  our  present  diagram  in  order  to  apply 

man's  culture  and  man's  behavior 


it  to  certain  acts,  mostly  found  in  religion  and  art,  in  which  the  act 
itself  is  not  instrumental,  but  rather  a  direct  satisfaction  of  spiritual 
needs  corresponding  to  the  integrative  type  of  interest.  When  a  believer 
repairs  to  a  temple  in  order  to  participate  in  a  sacramental  act,  a  slight 
reinterpretation  of  the  series  is  necessary.  The  sacrament  of  communion 
or  of  confession,  like  the  enjoyment  of  a  symphony  or  a  theatrical  per- 
formance, is  to  the  believer  or  the  artistically  hungry  man  of  culture  an 
end  in  itself.  To  a  certain  extent,  the  concept  of  function  breaks  down 
in  its  instrumental  character  when  some  of  the  most  highly  derived 
spiritual  needs  of  human  beings  are  considered.  The  satisfaction  felt  by 
the  mystic  in  complete  union  with  Divinity,  as  also  the  satisfaction  ex- 
perienced by  the  composer  or  by  the  musical  fanatic  when  he  listens  to 
the  symphony,  may  be  related  in  some  ways  to  the  general  integration  of 
culture.  They  have  certain  indirect  influences  on  cohesion,  solidarity,  and 
unity  of  the  group.  The  other  aspect,  however,  their  self-contained 
character  of  an  end  in  itself,  has  to  be  put  on  record  as  well.  This  argu- 
ment, as  previously,  can  be  set  forth  in  a  diagram. 

Motive  {religions  or  artistic) — Cultural  setting — Act  {communion  with 
the  Supernatural;  artistic  experience) — Satisfaction  {m.ystical  ecstasy  or 
artistic  pleasure) 

Fig.  6.  Cultural  sequence  of  direct  spiritual  satisfaction 

The  organized  systems  of  human  behavior 

In  our  analysis  we  certainly  have  not  thrown  overboard  considerations 
of  individual  psychology  or  organic  physiology.  At  the  same  time  we 
were  constantly  faced  by  the  fact  of  human  organization.  The  cultural 
fact  starts  when  an  individual  interest  becomes  transformed  into  public, 
common,  and  transferable  systems  of  organized  endeavor.  It  will  be 
necessary  to  define  the  nature  of  such  systems. 

In  the  principle  of  prepared  opportunities,  previously  discussed,  it  was 
evident  that  man  never  has  to  seek  for  the  satisfaction  of  any  of  his 
needs,  bodily,  instrumental  or  spiritual;  they  are  awaiting  him,  stored 
and  prepared.  We  spoke  of  the  two  streams  of  requirement  and  satisfac- 
tion flowing  parallel.  Man  finds  his  food,  his  shelter,  the  remedies  for  ill 
health,  the  redress  of  injuries,  and  spiritual  comforts  in  definite  places 
and  within  organized  groups.  Those  are  the  home,  the  workshop,  the 
hostelry,  the  school,  the  hospital,  or  the  church.  We  shall  describe  such 
standardized  systems  of  cooperation,  as  well  as  their  material  embodiment 
and  the  groups  running  them,  by  the  term  institution. 

This  reality  was  encountered  in  our  analysis  of  the  instrumental  phase 
of  a  sequence.  It  was  stated  that  such  a  phase  was  always  the  integral 
part  of  a  larger  unit  of  organization.  Fire-making,  as  an  instrumental 
phase,  can  happen  at  home  and  for  the  household,  or  during  an  organized 



enterprise,  or  else  ritually,  in  a  temple.  Stone  implements  are  produced  to 
build  a  house  or  to  pound  the  raw  material  of  food  or  to  engage  in  some 
organized  agricultural  work. 

At  a  much  higher  level,  we  can  see  that  no  individual  initiative  is  ever 
culturally  relevant  unless  incorporated  into  an  institution.  The  man  who 
conceives  a  new  scientific  idea  has  to  present  it  before  an  academy,  publish 
it,  teach  it  at  a  school,  and  compel  its  recognition  by  the  organized 
profession  before  it  becomes  an  accepted  part  of  science.  The  inventor 
has  to  take  out  a  patent,  and  thus  obtain  a  charter.  He  has  to  organize 
the  group  of  engineers  and  workmen,  to  finance  them,  and  thus  to  im- 
plement the  production  of  his  practical  device.  He  then  has  to  find  the 
market  of  consumers  by  creating  new  wants  or  redirecting  old  ones, 
and  make  the  productive  activity  of  his  organization  perform  a  function 
in  satisfying  a  need. 

In  the  analysis  of  the  concrete  structure  of  the  instrumental  phase  of 
behavior,  it  was  shown  that  it  always  consists  in  the  concurrence  of 
artifacts,  organization  of  the  personnel,  norms  of  conduct,  and  a  symbolic 
factor  which  functions  in  the  establishment  of  that  phase  and  in  its  co- 
ordination. From  this  we  can  proceed  to  a  fuller  definition  of  the  concept 
of  organized  activities  or  institutions. 

It  is  clear  that  the  essence  of  organization  implies  prima  facie  three 
factors:  a  group  of  people  engaged  in  the  common  performance  of  a 
task.  These  people  must  be  equipped  with  instruments  and  have  a  definite 
environmental  basis  for  their  activity.  We  know  also  that  in  technique, 
law,  and  ethics,  rules  are  the  essence  of  human  organization.  As  shown 
above,  however,  human  groups  do  not  organize  for  nothing.  They  have  a 
purpose  in  common,  they  pursue  an  end,  and  thus  they  are  bound  together 
by  a  charter  defining  the  purpose  of  their  collaboration  and  its  value. 
Right  through  our  analysis  it  is  evident  that  humanity,  primitive  and 
civilized  ahke,  engages  in  work  not  only  under  the  impulse  of  motives, 
but  also  towards  the  satisfaction  of  their  real  needs.  This  we  have  called 

The  function  of  an  institution  is  the  effect  which  it  produces  in  the 
satisfaction  of  human  needs.  To  the  three  concepts  of  personnel,  norms, 
and  material  apparatus,  we  must  add  those  of  charter  and  function. 
Figure  7  summarizes  this  argument  in  associating  the  several  co-effective 


Fig.  7.  Outline  of  an  institution 

man's  culture  and  man's  behavior 


factors  of  human  organization.  It  can  be  read  as  follows:  human  beings 
organize  under  a  charter  that  defines  their  common  aims  and  that  also 
determines  the  personnel  and  the  norms  of  conduct  of  the  group.  Apply- 
ing these  norms  and  with  the  use  of  the  material  apparatus,  the  members 
engage  in  activities,  through  which  they  contribute  towards  the  integral 
function  of  the  institution. 

Let  us  briefly  define  the  concepts  used  in  our  institutional  analysis. 
The  charter  is  the  system  of  values  for  the  pursuit  of  which  the  group 
have  organized.  It  may  consist  simply  of  a  legal  document,  or,  in  the 
case  of  traditional  institutions,  it  may  be  based  on  history,  legend,  or 
mythology.  The  personnel  of  an  institution  is  the  group  organized  on 
definite  principles  of  authority  and  division  of  work  and  distribution 
of  privilege  and  duty.  The  rules  or  norms  consist,  as  we  know,  in  all  the 
acquired  skills,  habits,  legal  norms,  and  ethical  commands.  The  distinc- 
tion here  made  between  norms  and  activities  is  justified.  The  norms  rep- 
resent the  ideal  standard  of  behavior,  the  activities  their  actual  realiza- 
tions. The  distinction  between  charter  and  norms  is  based  on  the  more 
fundamental  character  of  the  former.  It  defines  the  constitution  of  the 
group,  its  value  and  purpose  for  the  members,  as  well  as  the  command, 
permission,  or  acquiescence  of  the  community  at  large. 

The  diagram  would  be  as  useful  in  ethnographic  field  work  as  in  com- 
parative studies  where  it  supplies  the  common  measure  of  comparison.  It 
is  related  to  our  previous  analysis  in  that  the  entries  personnel,  norms, 
material  apparatus  correspond  to  the  instrumental  phases  of  culture.  The 
charter,  as  well  as  the  verbal  prescriptions  referring  to  the  norms,  belong 
to  the  integrative  class  in  our  hierarchy  of  imperatives.  The  function  is 
related  to  the  theory  of  hierarchical  needs  in  general. 

The  importance  of  the  concept  of  institution  as  the  legitimate  concrete 
isolate  of  cultural  analysis  is  seen  also  through  the  fact  that  we  can  draw 
up  a  list  of  the  main  types  of  institutions  valid  for  all  cultures.  At  first 
sight  such  a  list  does  not  look  impressive,  in  that  it  appears  entirely 
common  sense.  In  reality  it  supplies  the  student  with  one  of  the  most 
valuable  proofs  that  universal  laws  of  structure  and  process  can  be 
established  in  his  field.  The  main  types  of  institutional  organization  can 
be  listed  briefly  under  the  following  headings: 

1.  Family  and  derived  kinship  organizations 
(Extended  family;  kindred  groups;  clan) 

2.  Municipality 

(Local  group;  horde;  village;  township;  city) 

3.  Tribe  as  the  political  organization  based  on  territorial  principle 
(Primitive  tribe;  polis;  state;  state-nation;  empire) 

4.  Tribe  as  the  culturally  integrated  unit 
(Primitive  homogeneous  tribe;  nation) 



5.  Age-group 

(Age- grades;  age  hierarchies;  professional  age  distinctions) 

6.  Voluntary  associations 

(Primitive:  secret  societies  and  chtbs;  advanced:  benevolent,  political, 
and  ideological  societies) 

7.  Occupational  groups 

(Primitive:  magical  organizations;  economic  teams;  artisan  guilds; 
professional  associations;  religious  congregations) 

8.  Status  groups  based  on  the  principle  of  rank,  caste,  and  economic  class 

The  analysis  of  this  list  would  obviously  require  a  textbook  of  cultural 
anthropology  in  full  comment.  Here  I  only  want  to  point  out  that  an 
institution  like  the  family  may  change  considerably  from  one  culture  to 
another.  It  is  possible,  nevertheless,  to  give  a  minimum  definition  that 
would  serve  in  any  comparative  study  as  a  common  measure  and  for  any 
type  of  ethnographic  or  sociological  field  work  as  a  general  guide.  The 
family  is  the  group  consisting  of  husband  and  wife,  parents  and  children. 
It  is  based  on  the  charter  of  marriage  contract,  concluded  on  the  founda- 
tion of  the  marriage  law  and  religious  sanctity  of  this  bond  as  it  is  con- 
cretely formulated  in  each  particular  culture.  This  contract  implies  not 
only  the  definition  of  the  relation  between  the  consorts;  it  also  determines 
the  legitimacy  and  the  status  of  the  children. 

The  combination  of  the  law  of  marriage  and  the  law  of  kinship 
prevalent  in  any  culture  constitutes  the  minimum  definition  of  the 
family.  It  is  obvious  that  the  family  fulfils  several  functions:  reproduc- 
tive, educational,  economic,  legal,  and  often  also  religious  and  magical. 
Nevertheless,  it  is  clear  that  the  main  function  of  the  family  is  the 
culturally  redefined  production  not  merely  of  human  infants,  but  the 
supply  of  young  citizens  of  the  tribe.  The  economic  appurtenances,  the 
legal  prerogatives,  the  definition  of  authority  and  distribution  of  au- 
thority are  all  contingent  on  the  main  function.  We  can,  therefore,  define 
this  briefly  as  the  transformation  of  biological  reproduction  into  cul- 
turally defined  continuity  of  the  group.  We  could  supply  analogous 
definitions  in  terms  of  charter  and  function  of  all  the  other  entries  in 
our  table.  This  example  must  suffice.  It  shows  that  in  each  case  we  can 
define  the  integral  function  of  an  institution,  while  it  would  also  be  pos- 
sible to  show  that  the  aggregate  working  of  the  community  as  a  whole, 
that  is,  its  culture,  is  carried  along  by  the  combined  activity  of  all  the 
institutions.  These  problems,  however,  refer  already  to  the  detailed  and 
specialized  province  of  social  anthropology,  and  cannot  be  more  fully 
developed  here. 

man's  culture  and  man's  behavior 



An  attempt  has  been  made  in  the  present  discussion  to  define  cultural 
determinism;  the  influence  of  man's  culture  on  man's  behavior.  We  have 
seen  that  human  beings  act  within  the  framework  of  institutional  or- 
ganization, and  that  the  determinants  of  their  activities  can  be  defined 
in  terms  of  what  was  described  here  as  the  hierarchy  of  needs.  Our 
analysis  of  the  various  needs  and,  particularly,  their  relations  proves  that 
although  cultural  determinism  supplies  all  the  final  motives  of  behavior, 
culture,  in  turn,  is  determined  all  along  the  line.  We  were  not  driven 
into  the  assumption  of  such  concepts  as  cultural  relativism,  nor  is  it 
necessary  to  resort  to  research  for  specific  tribal  or  racial  geniuses  or 
entities.  It  is  evident  that  the  driving  forces  of  all  behavior  are  biologically 
conditioned.  The  indirect  instrumental  satisfaction  through  culture 
engenders  new  needs  of  an  instrumental  and  symbolic  character.  As  shown, 
however,  both  the  instrumentalities  and  the  symbolic  systems,  again, 
submit  to  certain  general  principles  which  we  were  able  to  formulate. 

Does  this  mean  that  we  are  denying  here  the  diversity  of  cultural 
phenomena  as  encountered  in  various  types  of  environment,  at  various 
levels  of  evolution,  and  even  within  nearly  related  cultures?  By  no 
means.  The  stress  which  was  laid  here  on  the  uniformity  is  due  primarily 
to  the  fact  that  we  are  here  concerned  with  methods  of  approach,  with 
common  measures  of  comparison,  and  with  instruments  of  research.  These 
had  to  be  built  upon  elements  which  are  constant,  recurrent,  and  which, 
therefore,  lead  to  generalizations  of  universal  validity. 

The  very  concept  of  function,  which  was  dominant  throughout  our 
analysis,  however,  opens  the  way  for  the  introduction  of  variety  and 
differentiation,  as  well  as  for  the  assertion  that  there  is  a  common  measure 
in  this  variety.  In  a  fuller  descriptive  statement  of  what  anthropology 
teaches  about  human  nature,  such  differential  characteristics  would 
obviously  have  to  be  introduced.  Some  of  them  would  undoubtedly 
lead  us  back  to  the  differential  influences  of  environment.  We  would 
find  that  the  very  basic  needs  have  to  be  satisfied  differentially  in  a 
desert,  in  an  Arctic  environment,  in  a  tropical  jungle,  or  a  fertile  plain, 
respectively.  Other  divergencies  are  accounted  for  by  the  level  of  develop- 
ment. Over  and  above  such  distinctions,  we  have  to  register  fully  and 
clearly  that  there  occur  in  human  cultures  strange  hypertrophies  of 
custom,  specific  types  of  value,  or  else  dominant  interests  in  one  or  the 
other  of  the  instrumental  imperatives.  In  some  cases  they  can  be  ac- 
counted for  by  a  gradual  integration  of  accidental  events  which  gave  to 
the  development  of  a  culture  a  specific  twist.  In  such  cases  we  could  say 
that  an  historic  explanation  of  such  a  hypertrophied  economic  institution 
as  the  Melanesian  kula  or  the  northwestern  American  potlatch  can  be 
given.  In  many  cases  the  anthropologist,  following  the  famous  student  of 



physics,  has  to  admit  simply  and  honestly  his  ignorance:  Ignoramus 

As  in  all  other  studies,  however,  it  is  first  necessary  to  establish  the 
basis  of  research  in  formulating  the  universal  principles  of  cultural  analy- 
ses and  thus  providing  a  thoroughgoing  classification  of  facts.  On  this 
basis  it  is  then  easier  and  more  profitable  to  discuss  the  minor  or  partial 
problems  of  the  subject  matter:  the  deviations  and  the  regional  character- 
istics of  cultures. 


Physiology  and  Psychology 

Cannon,  W,  B.,  Bodily  Changes  in  Pain,  Hunger,  Fear  and  Rage,  D.  Appleton  & 

Co.,  1929;  The  Wisdom  of  the  Body,  Morrow,  1932. 
Ford,  C.  S.,  "Society,  Culture,  and  the  Human  Organism,"  Jour.  Gen.  Psych., 

1939  (Vol.  XX),  pp.  13  5-79. 
Hull,  C.  L.,  Principles  of  Behavior,  in  preparation  [published  in  1943]. 
McDougall,  W.,  An  Introduction  to  Social  Psychology,  1st  ed.,  1908. 
Murray,  H.  A.,  Explorations  in  Personality,  New  York,  193  8. 
Richter,  C.  P.,  "Animal  Behavior  and  Internal  Drives,"  Quart.  Rev.  of  Biol., 

1927  (Vol.  II),  pp.  307-43. 
Young,  P.  T.,  Motivation  of  Behavior,  Wiley,  1936. 

Anthropology  and  Sociology 

Hertzler,  J.  O.,  Social  Institutions,  McGraw-Hill,  1929. 

Linton,  R.,  The  Study  of  Man,  Appleton-Century,  1936. 

Lowie,  R.  H.,  History  of  Ethnological  Theory,  Farrar  and  Rinehart,  1937. 

Malinowski,  B.,  "Magic,  Science  and  Religion,"  in  Science,  Religion  and  Reality, 
ed.  by  J.  Needham,  London,  1926. 

Malinowski,  B.,  "Anthropology,"  Encyclopaedia  Britannica,  13th  Edit.,  1926; 
"Social  Anthropology,"  Encyclopedia  Britannica,  14th  Edit.,  1929;  "Cul- 
ture," Encyclopaedia  of  the  Social  Sciences,  1931  (Vol.  IV) ;  "Anthropology 
as  Basis  of  Social  Science,"  in  Human  Affairs,  ed.  by  R.  B.  Cattell,  1937; 
The  Foundations  of  Faith  and  Morals,  Oxford  Univ.  Press,  193  8  [see  Chapt. 
16];  "The  Group  and  the  Individual  in  Functional  Analysis,"  Amer.  four. 
Social,  19}9  (Vol.  XLIV),  pp.  938-964;  "The  Scientific  Basis  of  Applied 
Anthropology,"  Trans.  VIII  Volta  Congress,  Roma,  Reale  Accademia  d'ltalia, 

Miller,  N.  E.,  and  Dollard,  J.,  Social  Learning  and  Imitation,  Yale  Univ.  Press, 

New  Haven,  1941. 
Murdock,  G.  P.,  Our  Primitive  Contemporaries,  Macmillan,  1934. 
Panunzio,  C,  Major  Social  Institutions,  Macmillan,  1939. 
Sumner,  W.  G.,  Folkways,  Ginn  &  Co.,  1906. 

Sumner,  W.  G.,  and  Keller,  A.  G.,  Science  of  Society,  Yale  Univ.  Press,  1927-28. 

llilllll  9  llllllililililllil 


Personality,  organization,  and  culture 

It  might  seem  axiomatic  that  in  any  sociological  approach  the  individual, 
the  group,  and  their  relations  must  remain  the  constant  theme  of  all 
observations  and  argument.  The  group,  after  all,  is  but  the  assemblage  of 
individuals  and  must  be  thus  defined — unless  we  fall  into  the  fallacy  of 
"group  mind,'*  "collective  sensorium,"  or  the  gigantic  "Moral  Being" 
which  thinks  out  and  improvises  all  collective  events.  Nor  can  such 
conceptions  as  individual,  personality,  self,  or  mind  be  described  except 
in  terms  of  membership  in  a  group  or  groups — unless  again  we  wish  to 
hug  the  figment  of  the  individual  as  a  detached,  self-contained  entity.  We 
can,  therefore,  lay  down  as  an  axiom — or  better,  as  an  empirical  truth 
— that  in  field  work  and  theory,  in  observation  and  analysis,  the  leitmotiv 
"individual,  group,  and  their  mutual  dependence"  will  run  through  all 
the  inquiries. 

But  the  exact  determination  of  what  we  mean  by  "individual,"  or 
how  he  is  related  to  his  "group,"  the  final  understanding  of  the  terms 
"social  organization"  or  "cultural  determinism"  presents  a  number  of 
problems  to  be  discussed.  I  would  like  to  add  that  over  and  above  indi- 
vidual mental  processes  and  forms  of  social  organization  it  is  necessary  to 
introduce  another  factor,  which  together  with  the  previous  ones  makes 
up  the  totality  of  cultural  processes  and  phenomena.  I  mean  the  material 
apparatus  which  is  indispensable  both  for  the  understanding  of  how  a 
culturally  determined  individual  comes  into  being  and,  also,  how  he  co- 
operates in  group  life  with  other  individuals. 

In  what  follows  I  shall  discuss  some  of  these  questions  from  the 

This  article  appeared  in  the  American  Journal  of  Sociology,  May  1939  (Vol. 
XLJy,  No.  6)y  pp.  93  8-64. 



anthropological  point  of  view.  Most  of  my  scientific  experiences  in  cul- 
ture are  derived  from  work  in  the  field.  As  an  anthropologist  I  am 
interested  in  primitive  as  well  as  in  developed  cultures.  The  functional 
approach,  moreover,  considers  the  totaHty  of  cultural  phenomena  as  the 
necessary  background  both  of  the  analysis  of  man  and  that  of  society. 
Indeed,  since  in  my  opinion  the  relation  between  individual  and  group  is 
a  universal  motive  in  all  problems  of  sociology  and  comparative  anthro- 
pology, a  brief  survey  of  the  functional  theory  of  culture,  with  a  special 
emphasis  on  our  specific  problem,  will  be  the  best  method  of  presentation. 

Functionalism  differs  from  other  sociological  theories  more  definitely, 
perhaps,  in  its  conception  and  definition  of  the  individual  than  in  any 
other  respect.^  The  functionalist  includes  in  his  analysis  not  merely  the 
emotional  as  well  as  the  intellectual  side  of  mental  processes,  but  also 
insists  that  man  in  his  full  biological  reahty  has  to  be  drawn  into  our 
analysis  of  culture.  The  bodily  needs  and  environmental  influences,  and 
the  cultural  reactions  to  them,  have  thus  to  be  studied  side  by  side. 

The  field  worker  observes  human  beings  acting  within  an  environ- 
mental setting,  natural  and  artificial;  influenced  by  it,  and  in  turn  trans- 
forming it  in  co-operation  with  each  other.  He  studies  how  men  and 
women  are  motivated  in  their  mutual  relations  by  feelings  of  attraction 
and  repulsion,  by  co-operative  duties  and  privileges,  by  profits  drawn  and 
sacrifices  made.  The  invisible  network  of  social  bonds,  of  which  the 
organization  of  the  group  is  made  up,  is  defined  by  charters  and  codes — 
technological,  legal,  customary,  and  moral — to  which  every  individual  is 
differentially  submitted,  and  which  integrate  the  group  into  a  whole. 
Since  all  rules  and  all  tribal  tradition  are  expressions  in  words — that  is, 
symbols — the  understanding  of  social  organization  implies  an  analysis  of 
symbolism  and  language.  Empirically  speaking  the  field  worker  has  to 
collect  texts,  statements,  and  opinions,  side  by  side  with  the  observation 
of  behavior  and  the  study  of  material  culture. 

In  this  brief  preamble  we  have  already  insisted  that  the  individual 
must  be  studied  as  a  biological  reaUty.  We  have  indicated  that  the  physical 
world  must  be  part  of  our  analysis,  both  as  the  natural  milieu  and  as  the 

^  When  I  speak  of  "functionalism"  here  I  mean  the  brand  which  I  have  produced  and 
am  cultivating  myself.  My  friend,  Professor  R.  H.  Lov^^ie  of  Berkeley,  has  in  his  last 
book,  The  History  of  Ethnological  Theory  (1937),  introduced  the  distinction  between 
"pure"  and  "tempered"  functionalism — my  brand  being  the  pure  one.  Usually  Professor 
Radcliffe-Brown's  name  is  linked  with  mine  as  a  representative  of  the  functional  school. 
Here  the  distinction  between  "plain"  and  "hyphenated"  functionalism  might  be  intro- 
duced. Professor  Lowie  has,  in  my  opinion,  completely  misunderstood  the  essence  of 
"pure"  functionalism.  The  substance  of  this  article  may  serve  as  a  corrective.  Professor 
Radcliffe-Brown  is,  as  far  as  I  can  see,  still  developing  and  deepening  the  views  of  the 
French  sociological  school.  He  thus  has  to  neglect  the  individual  and  disregard  biology. 
In  this  article  functionalism  "plain  and  pure"  will  be  briefly  oudined  with  special 
reference  to  the  problem  of  the  group  and  the  individual. 


body  of  tools  and  commodities  produced  by  man.  We  have  pointed  out 
that  individuals  never  cope  with,  or  move  within,  their  environment  in 
isolation,  but  in  organized  groups,  and  that  organization  is  expressed  in 
traditional  charters,  which  are  symbolic  in  essence. 

The  individual  organism  under  conditions  of  culture 

Taking  man  as  a  biological  entity  it  is  clear  that  certain  minima  of  condi- 
tions can  be  laid  down  which  are  indispensable  to  the  personal  welfare  of 
the  individual  and  to  the  continuation  of  the  group.  All  human  beings 
have  to  be  nourished,  they  have  to  reproduce,  and  they  require  the 
maintenance  of  certain  physical  conditions:  ventilation,  temperature 
within  a  definite  range,  a  sheltered  and  dry  place  to  rest,  and  safety  from 
the  hostile  forces  of  nature,  of  animals,  and  of  man.  The  physiological 
working  of  each  individual  organism  implies  the  intake  of  food  and  of 
oxygen,  occasional  movement,  and  relaxation  in  sleep  and  recreation.  The 
process  of  growth  in  man  necessitates  protection  and  guidance  in  its 
early  stages  and,  later  on,  specific  training. 

We  have  listed  here  some  of  the  essential  conditions  to  which  cultural 
activity,  whether  individual  or  collective,  has  instrumentally  to  con- 
form. It  is  well  to  recall  that  these  are  only  minimum  conditions — the 
very  manner  in  which  they  are  satisfied  in  culture  imposes  certain  ad- 
ditional requirements.  These  constitute  new  needs,  which  in  turn  have 
to  be  satisfied.  The  primary — that  is,  the  biological — wants  of  the 
human  organism  are  not  satisfied  naturally  by  direct  contact  of  the  indi- 
vidual organism  with  the  physical  environment.  Not  only  does  the  indi- 
vidual depend  on  the  group  in  whatever  he  achieves  and  whatever  he 
obtains,  but  the  group  and  all  its  individual  members  depend  on  the 
development  of  a  material  outfit,  which  in  its  essence  is  an  addition  to 
the  human  anatomy,  and  which  entails  corresponding  modifications  of 
human  physiology. 

In  order  to  present  our  argument  in  a  synoptic  manner,  let  us  con- 
cisely list  in  Column  A  of  the  table  on  page  226  the  basic  needs  of  the 
individual.  Thus  "Nutrition  (metabolism)"  indicates  not  only  the  need 
for  a  supply  of  food  and  of  oxygen,  but  also  the  conditions  under  which 
food  can  be  prepared,  eaten,  digested,  and  the  sanitary  arrangements 
which  this  implies.  "Reproduction"  obviously  means  that  the  sexual 
urges  of  man  and  woman  have  to  be  satisfied,  and  the  continuity  of  the 
group  maintained.  The  entry  "Bodily  comforts"  indicates  that  the 
human  organism  can  be  active  and  effective  only  within  certain  ranges 
of  temperature;  that  it  must  be  sheltered  from  dampness  and  drafts;  that 
it  must  be  given  opportunities  for  rest  and  sleep.  "Safety"  again  refers  to 
all  the  dangers  lurking  in  the  natural  environment,  both  for  civiUzed  and 
primitive:  earthquakes  and  tidal  waves,  snowstorms  and  excessive  insola- 
tion; it  also  indicates  the  need  of  protection  from  dangerous  animals  and 



human  foes.  "Relaxation"  implies  the  need  of  the  human  organism  for  a 
rhythm  of  work  by  day  and  sleep  at  night,  of  intensive  bodily  exercise 
and  rest,  of  seasons  of  recreation  alternating  with  periods  of  practical 
activity.  The  entry  "Movement"  declares  that  human  beings  must  have 
regular  exercise  of  muscles  and  nervous  system.  "Growth"  indicates  the 
fact  that  the  development  of  the  human  organism  is  culturally  directed 
and  redefined  from  infancy  into  ripe  age. 








Basic  needs 

Direct  responses 



Symbolic  and 

Systems  oi 


{organized , 


to  instrumental 



i.e.,  collective) 






Renewal  of 






of  experience 



by  means  of 
precise,  con- 
sistent princi- 


Marriage  and 




Charters  of 



and  dress 

and  their 



and  defense 

Means  of  intel- 
lectual, emo- 
tional, and 
coniroi  or 
destiny  and 



Systems  of 
play  and 

Renewal  of 



Set  activities 
and  sys- 
tems of 


Training  and 






of force 


rhythm of 



and  com- 


exercise,  and 


It  is  clear  that  the  understanding  of  any  one  of  these  entries  of  Column 
A  brings  us  down  immediately  to  the  analysis  of  the  individual  organism. 


We  see  that  any  lack  of  satisfaction  in  any  one  of  the  basic  needs  must 
necessarily  imply  at  least  temporary  maladjustment.  In  more  pronounced 
forms,  nonsatisfaction  entails  ill-health  and  decay  through  malnutrition, 
exposure  to  heat  or  cold,  to  sun  or  moisture;  or  destruction  by  natural 
forces,  animals,  or  man.  Psychologically  the  basic  needs  are  expressed  in 
drives,  desires,  or  emotions,  which  move  the  organism  to  the  satisfaction 
of  each  need  through  systems  or  linked  reflexes. 

The  science  of  culture,  however,  is  concerned  not  with  the  raw  material 
of  anatomical  and  physiological  endowment  in  the  individual,  but  with 
the  manner  in  which  this  endowment  is  modified  by  social  influences. 
When  we  inquire  how  the  bodily  needs  are  satisfied  under  conditions  of 
culture,  we  find  the  systems  of  direct  response  to  bodily  needs  which  are 
listed  in  Column  B.  And  here  we  can  see  at  once  the  complete  depend- 
ence of  the  individual  upon  the  group:  each  of  these  cultural  responses  is 
dependent  upon  organized  collective  activities,  which  are  carried  on 
according  to  a  traditional  scheme,  and  in  which  human  beings  not  merely 
co-operate  with  one  another  but  continue  the  achievements,  inventions, 
devices,  and  theories  inherited  from  previous  generations. 

In  matters  of  nutrition,  the  individual  human  being  does  not  act  in 
isolation;  nor  does  he  behave  in  terms  of  mere  anatomy  and  unadulterated 
physiology;  we  have  to  deal,  instead,  with  personality,  culturally  molded. 
Appetite  or  even  hunger  is  determined  by  the  social  milieu.  Nowhere  and 
never  will  man,  however  primitive,  feed  on  the  fruits  of  his  environment. 
He  always  selects  and  rejects,  produces  and  prepares.  He  does  not  depend 
on  the  physiological  rhythm  of  hunger  and  satiety  alone;  his  digestive 
processes  are  timed  and  trained  by  the  daily  routine  of  his  tribe,  nation, 
or  class.  He  eats  at  definite  times,  and  he  goes  for  his  food  to  his  table. 
The  table  is  supplied  from  the  kitchen,  the  kitchen  from  the  larder,  and 
this  again  is  replenished  from  the  market  or  from  the  tribal  food-supply 

The  symbolic  expressions  here  used — "table,"  "kitchen,"  etc. — refer  to 
the  various  phases  of  the  process  which  separates  the  requirements  of  the 
organism  from  the  natural  sources  of  food  supply,  and  which  is  listed  in 
Column  B  as  "Commissariat."  They  indicate  that  at  each  stage  man 
depends  on  the  group — family,  club,  or  fraternity.  And  here  again  we  use 
these  expressions  in  a  sense  embracing  primitive  as  well  as  civilized  insti- 
tutions, concerned  with  the  production,  preparation,  and  consumption 
of  nourishment.  The  raw  material  of  individual  physiology  is  found  every- 
where refashioned  by  cultural  and  social  determinism.  The  group  has 
molded  the  individual  in  matters  of  taste,  of  tribal  taboos,  of  the  nutritive 
and  symbolic  value  of  food,  as  well  as  in  the  manners  and  modes  of 
commensahsm.  Above  all,  the  group,  through  economic  co-operation, 
provides  the  stream  of  food  supply. 

One  general  point  which  we  will  have  to  make  throughout  our  analysis 



is  that  the  relation  is  not  of  the  individual  to  society  or  the  group.  Even 
in  matters  of  commissariat  a  number  of  groups  make  their  appearance.  In 
the  most  primitive  society  we  would  have  the  organization  of  food- 
gatherers,  some  institutions  through  which  the  distribution  and  apportion- 
ment of  food  takes  place,  and  the  commensal  group  of  consumers — as  a 
rule,  the  family.  And  were  we  to  analyze  each  of  these  groups  from  the 
point  of  view  of  nutrition,  we  would  find  that  the  place  of  the  individual 
in  each  of  them  is  determined  by  the  differentiation  as  to  skill,  abiUty, 
interest,  and  appetite. 

When  we  come  to  the  cultural  satisfaction  of  the  individual  impulses 
and  emotions  of  sex  and  of  the  collective  need  for  reproduction,  we  would 
see  that  human  beings  do  not  reproduce  by  nature  alone.  The  full  satis- 
faction of  the  impulse,  as  well  as  the  socially  legitimate  effect  of  it,  is 
subject  to  a  whole  set  of  rules  defining  courtship  and  marriage,  prenuptial 
and  extra-connubial  intercourse,  as  well  as  the  life  within  the  family 
(Col.  B,  ''Marriage  and  family").  The  individual  brings  to  this,  obviously, 
his  or  her  anatomical  equipment,  and  the  corresponding  physiological 
impulses.  He  also  contributes  the  capacity  to  develop  tastes  and  interests, 
emotional  attitudes  and  sentiments.  Yet  in  all  this  the  group  not  only 
imposes  barriers  and  presents  opportunities,  suggests  ideals  and  restric- 
tions, and  dictates  values,  but  the  community  as  a  whole,  through  its 
system  of  legal  rules,  ethical  and  religious  principles,  and  such  concepts 
as  honor,  virtue,  and  sin,  affects  even  the  physiological  attitude  of  man  to 
woman.  Take  the  most  elementary  physical  impulse,  such  as  the  attrac- 
tion of  one  sex  by  another.  The  very  estimate  of  beauty  and  the  apprecia- 
tion of  the  bodily  shape  is  modified  by  traditional  reshaping:  lip  plugs  and 
nose  sticks,  scarification  and  tattooing,  the  deformation  of  feet,  breasts, 
waist,  and  head,  and  even  of  the  organs  of  reproduction.  In  courtship  and 
in  selection  for  marriage  such  factors  as  rank,  wealth,  and  economic 
efficiency  enter  into  the  estimate  of  the  integral  desirability  and  value  of 
one  mate  for  the  other.  And  again  the  fullest  expression  of  the  impulse 
in  the  desire  for  children  is  affected  by  the  systems  of  legal  principle, 
economic  interest,  and  religious  ideology,  which  profoundly  modify  the 
innate  substratum  of  human  physiology. 

Enough  has  been  said  to  point  out  that  here  once  more  any  empirical 
study  of  the  reproductive  process  in  a  given  culture  must  consider  both 
the  individual,  the  group,  and  the  material  apparatus  of  culture.  The  indi- 
vidual, in  this  most  personal  and  subjective  concern  of  human  life,  is 
submitted  to  the  influence  of  tradition  which  penetrates  right  down  to 
the  processes  of  internal  secretion  and  physiological  response.  The  selec- 
tive business  of  choice  and  of  mating  are  constantly  directed  and  influ- 
enced by  the  social  setting.  The  most  important  stages  (i.e.,  marriage  and 
parenthood)  have  to  receive  a  social  hallmark  in  the  contract  of  marriage. 
The  legitimacy  of  the  fruits  of  their  bodily  union  depends  upon  whether 


they  have  conformed  or  not  to  the  systems  evolved  in  the  community  by 
traditional  dictates. 

Yet  here  once  more  we  do  not  deal  with  the  group  and  the  individual, 
but  we  would  have  to  consider  a  whole  set  of  human  agglomerations:  the 
group  of  the  two  principal  actors  (i.e.,  marriage),  the  prospective  family, 
the  already  developed  families  of  each  mate,  the  local  community,  and 
the  tribe  as  the  bearer  of  law,  tradition,  and  their  enforcement. 

We  must  survey  the  other  items  of  Column  B  more  rapidly.  The 
whole  cultural  system  which  corresponds  to  the  necessity  of  keeping  the 
human  organism  within  certain  limits  of  temperature,  to  the  necessity  of 
protecting  it  from  the  various  inclemencies  of  wind  and  weather,  ob- 
viously implies  also  the  parallel  consideration  of  individual  and  group.  In 
constructing  and  maintaining  even  the  simplest  habitation,  in  the  keep- 
ing of  the  fire  alive,  in  the  upkeep  of  roads  and  communications,  the 
individual  alone  is  not  enough.  He  has  to  be  trained  for  each  task  in 
technological  and  co-operative  abilities,  and  he  has  to  work  in  conjunc- 
tion with  others. 

From  the  biological  point  of  view  the  group  acts  as  an  indispensable 
medium  for  the  realization  of  individual  bodily  needs.  The  organism 
within  each  culture  is  trained  to  accommodate  and  harden  to  certain 
conditions  which  might  prove  dangerous  or  even  fatal  without  this 

Here,  therefore,  we  have  again  the  two  elements:  the  molding  or  condi- 
tioning of  the  human  anatomy  and  physiology  by  collective  influences 
and  cultural  apparatus,  and  the  production  of  this  apparatus  through 
co-operative  activities.  Safety  is  achieved  by  organized  defense,  precau- 
tionary measures,  and  calculations  based  on  tribal  knowledge  and  foresight. 

The  development  of  the  muscular  system  and  the  provision  of  move- 
ment are  again  provided  for  by  the  training  of  the  individual  organism 
and  by  the  collective  production  of  means  of  communication,  of  vehicles 
of  transport,  and  of  technical  rules  which  define  their  use.  The  physical 
growth  as  guided  by  the  influence  of  the  group  on  the  individual  shows 
directly  the  dependence  of  the  organism  upon  his  social  milieu.  It  is  also 
a  contribution  of  the  individual  to  the  community  in  that  it  supplies  in 
each  case  an  adequate  member  of  one  or  several  social  units. 

The  instrumental  imperatives  of  culture 

In  glancing  at  our  chart  and  comparing  Columns  A  and  B,  we  recognize 
that  the  first  represents  the  biological  needs  of  the  individual  organism 
which  must  be  satisfied  in  every  culture.  Column  B  describes  briefly  the 
cultural  responses  to  each  of  these  needs.  Culture  thus  appears  first  and 
foremost  as  a  vast  instrumental  reality — the  body  of  implements  and 
commodities,  charters  of  social  organization,  ideas  and  customs,  beliefs  and 
values — all  of  which  allow  man  to  satisfy  his  biological  requirements 



through  co-operation  and  within  an  environment  refashioned  and  read- 
justed. The  human  organism,  however,  itself  becomes  modified  in  the 
process  and  readjusted  to  the  type  of  situation  provided  by  culture.  In 
this  sense  culture  is  also  a  vast  conditioning  apparatus,  which  through 
training,  the  imparting  of  skills,  the  teaching  of  morals,  and  the  develop- 
ment of  tastes  amalgamates  the  raw  material  of  human  physiology  and 
anatomy  with  external  elements,  and  through  this  supplements  the 
bodily  equipment  and  conditions  the  physiological  processes.  Culture  thus 
produces  individuals  whose  behavior  cannot  be  understood  by  the  study 
of  anatomy  and  physiology  alone,  but  has  to  be  studied  through  the 
analysis  of  cultural  determinism — that  is,  the  processes  of  conditioning 
and  molding.  At  the  same  time  we  see  that  from  the  very  outset  the 
existence  of  groups — that  is,  of  individuals  organized  for  co-operation  and 
cultural  give  and  take — is  made  indispensable  by  culture. 

But  this  first  approach  still  remains  chaotic  and  incomplete.  On  the 
one  hand  it  is  easy  to  see  that  certain  fundamental  types  of  human  group- 
ing, such  as  family,  village  community,  the  politically  organized  tribe,  or 
the  modern  state,  appear  almost  everywhere  in  Column  B.  The  family  is 
not  merely  the  reproductive  group,  it  is  also  almost  invariably  a  unit 
playing  the  more  or  less  dominant  part  in  the  commissariat.  It  is  as- 
sociated with  the  domicile  and  often  with  the  production  of  clothing  and 
other  means  of  bodily  protection  (Col.  B,  "Domicile  and  dress").  The 
tribe  or  state  which  is  primarily  associated  with  protection  and  defense 
is  also  the  group  which  takes  cognizance  of  marriage  law  and  family 
organization,  which  has  its  collective  financial  systems,  and  which  at 
times  organizes  nutritive  exploits  on  a  large  scale.  Nor  could  we  eliminate 
the  role  of  the  village  community  from  any  of  the  items  listed  in  Column 
B,  for  this  also  functions  at  times  as  a  food-producing  group,  or  at  least 
plays  some  part  in  the  commissariat.  It  is  an  assemblage  of  households  or 
tents  providing  the  social  setting  for  courtship  and  communal  recrea- 
tions. Thus  a  further  analysis  of  the  integrated  responses  hsted  in  Column 
B  appears  inevitable  from  the  point  of  view  of  the  organization  into 
concrete  units  of  collective  activity — that  is,  institutions. 

Our  list  is  also  incomplete  in  so  far  as  certain  institutions  have  not  yet 
been  Hsted.  The  church,  for  instance,  to  which  in  primitive  communities 
there  may  correspond  a  totemic  clan  or  a  kinship  group  worshiping  a 
common  ancestor,  is  not  yet  on  the  map.  Institutions  corresponding  to 
rank  and  hierarchy,  to  occupation,  and  to  free  association  into  groups, 
secret  societies,  and  charitable  insurance  groups,  have  not  yet  been  con- 
nected with  any  part  of  our  argument. 

Another  element  of  confusion  becomes  apparent  were  we  to  cut  short 
our  analysis  at  this  stage:  for  certain  types  of  activities— economic,  edu- 
cational, or  normative — run  right  through  every  one  of  the  cultural  re- 
sponses of  Column  B. 


Our  further  analysis  thus  branches  off  into  a  double  line  of  argument. 
We  can,  on  the  one  hand,  consider  the  organization  of  human  activities 
into  certain  concrete  and,  as  we  shall  see,  universal  forms  such  as  the 
family,  the  clan,  the  tribe,  the  age-grade,  the  association  (club,  secret 
society),  the  occupational  group  (professional  or  economic),  or  the 
church,  and  the  status  group  or  hierarchy  in  rank,  wealth,  or  power.  We 
have  designated  such  organized  groups,  connected  with  definite  purposeful 
activities  and  invariably  united  by  special  reference  to  environment  and 
to  the  material  apparatus  which  they  wield,  by  the  term  "institution." 

On  the  other  hand,  we  can  concentrate  on  the  type  and  character  of 
the  activity  and  define  more  fully  the  several  aspects  of  culture,  such  as 
economics,  education,  social  control,  knowledge,  magic,  and  rehgion. 

Let  us  start  with  a  brief  analysis  of  this  second  point.  Man's  anatomical 
endowment — which  obviously  includes  not  only  his  muscular  system  and 
his  organs  of  digestion  and  reproduction,  but  also  his  brain — is  an  asset 
which  will  be  developed  under  any  system  of  culture  when  the  individual 
is  trained  into  a  full  tribesman  or  citizen  of  his  community.  The  natural 
endowment  of  man  presents  also,  we  have  seen,  a  system  of  needs  which 
are,  under  culture,  satisfied  by  organized  and  instrumentally  adjusted 
responses.  The  empirical  corollary  to  our  analysis  of  basic  needs  has  been 
that,  under  conditions  of  culture,  the  satisfaction  of  every  organic  need 
is  achieved  in  an  indirect,  complicated,  roundabout  manner.  It  is  this  vast 
instrumentalism  of  human  culture  which  has  allowed  man  to  master  the 
environment  in  a  manner  incomparably  more  effective  than  any  animal 

But  every  achievement  and  advantage  demands  its  price  to  be  paid.  The 
complex  cultural  satisfaction  of  the  primary  biological  needs  imposes  upon 
man  new  secondary  or  derived  imperatives.  In  Column  C  of  our  table  we 
have  briefly  listed  these  new  imperatives.  It  is  clear  that  the  use  of  tools 
and  implements,  and  the  fact  that  man  uses  and  destroys  in  the  use — that 
is,  consumes — such  goods  as  food  produced  and  prepared,  clothing,  build- 
ing materials,  and  means  of  transportation,  implies  the  necessity  of  a 
constant  "renewal  of  the  cultural  apparatus.'* 

Every  cultural  activity  again  is  carried  through  co-operation.  This 
means  that  man  has  to  obey  rules  of  conduct:  life  in  common,  which  is 
essential  to  co-operation,  means  sacrifices  and  joint  effort,  the  harnessing  of 
individual  contributions  and  work  to  a  common  end,  and  the  distribu- 
tion of  the  results  according  to  traditional  claims.  Life  in  close  co-opera- 
tion— that  is,  propinquity — offers  temptations  as  regards  sex  and  property. 
Co-operation  implies  leadership,  authority,  and  hierarchy,  and  these, 
primitive  or  civilized,  introduce  the  strain  of  competitive  vanity  and 
rivalries  in  ambition.  The  rules  of  conduct  which  define  duty  and 
privilege,  harness  concupiscences  and  jealousies,  and  lay  down  the  charter 
of  family,  municipality,  tribe,  and  of  every  co-operative  group,  must 



therefore  not  only  be  known  in  every  society,  but  they  must  be  sanc- 
tioned— that  is,  provided  with  means  of  effective  enforcement.  Thus  the 
need  for  code  and  for  effective  sanction  is  another  derived  imperative 
imposed  on  every  organized  group  ("Charters  of  behavior  and  their  sanc- 
tions," Col.  C) . 

The  m.embers  of  such  groups  have  to  be  renewed  even  as  the  material 
objects  have  to  be  replaced.  Education  in  the  widest  sense — that  is,  the 
development  of  the  infant  into  a  fully  fledged  member  of  his  group — is  a 
type  of  activity  which  must  exist  in  every  culture  and  which  must  be 
carried  out  specifically  with  reference  to  every  type  of  organization  ("The 
renewal  of  personnel,"  Col.  C) .  The  need  for  "Organization  of  force  and 
compulsion"  (Col.  C)  is  universal. 

In  Column  D  we  find  briefly  listed  the  cultural  systems  to  be  found  in 
every  human  group  as  a  response  to  the  instrumental  needs  imposed  by 
the  roundabout  type  of  cultural  satisfactions.  Thus  "Economics,"  that 
is,  systems  of  production,  of  distribution,  and  of  consumption;  organized 
systems  of  "Social  control";  "Education,"  that  is,  traditional  means  by 
which  the  individual  is  brought  up  from  infancy  to  tribal  or  national 
status;  and  "Political  organization"  into  municipality,  tribe,  or  state  are 
universal  aspects  of  every  human  society  (cf.  Col.  D). 

Let  us  look  at  our  argument  and  at  our  table  from  the  point  of  view  of 
anthropological  field  work  or  that  of  a  sociological  student  in  a  modern 
community — that  is,  from  the  angle  of  empirical  observation.  Our  table 
indicates  that  field  research  on  primitive  or  developed  communities  will 
have  to  be  directed  upon  such  aspects  of  culture  as  economics,  legal 
institutions,  education,  and  the  political  organization  of  the  unit.  Our 
inquiries  will  have  to  include  a  specific  study  of  the  individual,  as  well  as 
of  the  group  within  which  he  has  to  live  and  work. 

It  is  clear  that  in  economic  matters  the  individual  member  of  a  culture 
must  acquire  the  necessary  skills,  learn  how  to  work  and  produce,  ap- 
preciate the  prevalent  values,  manage  his  wealth,  and  regulate  his  con- 
sumption according  to  the  established  standard  of  living.  Among  primitive 
peoples  there  will  be  in  all  this  a  considerable  uniformity  as  regards  all 
individuals.  In  highly  civilized  communities,  the  diflPerentiation  of  labor 
and  of  functions  defines  the  place  and  the  productive  value  of  the  indi- 
vidual in  society.  On  the  other  hand,  the  collective  aspect — that  is,  the 
organization  of  economics — is  obviously  one  of  the  main  factors  in 
defining  the  level  of  culture  and  in  determining  a  great  many  factors  of 
social  structure,  hierarchy,  rank,  and  status. 

As  regards  social  control,  anthropological  field  work  in  primitive  com- 
munities has  in  my  opinion  missed  two  essential  points.  First  of  all,  the 
absence  of  clearly  crystaUized  legal  institutions  does  not  mean  that 
mechanisms  of  enforcement,  effective  sanctions,  and  at  times  complicated 
systems  by  which  obligations  and  rights  are  determined  are  absent.  Codes, 


systems  of  litigation,  and  effective  sanctions  are  invariably  to  be  found  as 
a  by-product  of  the  action  and  reaction  between  individuals  within  every 
organized  group — that  is,  institution.  The  legal  aspect  is  thus  in  primitive 
societies  a  by-product  of  the  influence  of  organization  upon  individual 

On  the  other  hand,  the  study  of  the  legal  problem  from  the  individual 
point  of  view  reveals  to  us  that  the  submission  to  tribal  order  is  always  a 
matter  of  long  and  effective  training.  In  many  primitive  communities, 
the  respect  for  the  rule  and  the  command  is  not  inculcated  very  early  in 
life — that  is,  parental  authority  is,  as  a  rule,  less  rigidly  and  drastically 
forced  upon  children  among  so-called  savages  than  among  civilized 
peoples.  At  the  same  time  there  are  certain  tribal  taboos,  rules  of  personal 
decency,  and  of  domestic  morality  that  are  impressed  not  so  much  by 
direct  castigation  as  by  the  strong  shock  of  ostracism  and  personal 
indignation  which  the  child  receives  from  parents,  siblings,  and  con- 
temporaries. In  many  communities  we  find  that  the  child  passes  through 
a  period  of  almost  complete  detachment  from  home,  running  around, 
playing  about,  and  engaging  in  early  activities  with  his  playmates  and 
contemporaries.  In  such  activities  strict  teaching  in  tribal  law  is  enforced 
more  directly  and  poignantly  than  in  the  parental  home.  The  fact  re- 
mains that  in  every  community  the  human  being  grows  up  into  a  law- 
abiding  member;  and  he  is  acquainted  with  the  tribal  code;  and  that, 
through  the  variety  of  educational  influences  and  considerations  of  self- 
interest,  reasonable  give  and  take,  and  balance  of  sacrifices  and  advantages, 
he  follows  the  rulings  of  his  traditional  system  of  laws.  Thus  the  study 
of  how  obedience  to  rules  is  inculcated  in  the  individual  during  his  life- 
history  and  the  study  of  the  mutualities  of  give  and  take  within  organized 
life  in  institutions  constitute  the  full  field  for  observation  and  analysis  of 
the  legal  system  in  a  primitive  community.  I  would  like  to  add  that  the 
science  of  modern  jurisprudence  could  become  inspired  by  anthropology 
in  treating  legal  phenomena  within  the  context  of  social  life  and  in 
conjunction  with  other  norms  of  conduct. 

As  regards  education,  we  need  only  point  out  that  this  is  the  very 
process  through  which  the  total  conditioning  of  the  individual  is  ac- 
complished, and  that  this  always  takes  place  within  the  organized  groups 
into  which  the  individual  enters.  He  is  born  into  the  family,  which  almost 
invariably  supplies  his  earliest  and  most  important  schooling  in  the  earliest 
exercise  of  bodily  functions,  in  the  learning  of  language,  and  in  the 
acquisition  of  the  simplest  manners  of  cleanliness,  conduct,  and  polite 
behavior.  He  then  may,  through  a  system  of  initiation,  enter  into  a  group 
of  adolescents,  of  young  warriors,  and  then  of  mature  tribesmen.  In  every 
one  of  his  technical  and  economic  activities  he  passes  through  an  appren- 
ticeship in  which  he  acquires  the  skills  as  well  as  the  legal  code  of  privilege 
and  obligation  of  his  group. 



The  place  of  the  individual  in  organized  grotips 

So  far  we  have  been  speaking  of  the  instrumental  aspects  of  culture. 
Their  definition  is  essentially  functional.  Since  in  every  community  there 
is  the  need  for  the  renewal  of  the  material  apparatus  of  tools  and  imple- 
ments and  the  production  of  goods  of  consumption,  there  must  exist 
organized  economics  at  every  level  of  development.  All  the  influences 
which  transform  the  naked  infant  into  a  cultural  personality  have  to  be 
studied  and  recorded  as  educational  agencies  and  constitute  the  aspect 
which  we  label  "education."  Since  law  and  order  have  to  be  maintained, 
there  must  be  a  code  of  rules,  a  means  of  their  readjustment  and  re-estab- 
hshment  when  broken  or  infringed.  In  every  community  there  exists, 
therefore,  a  juridical  system.  This  functional  approach  is  based  on  the 
empirical  summing-up  of  the  theory  of  derived  needs  and  their  relation  to 
individual  biology  and  cultural  co-operation  alike. 

What  is  the  relation  between  these  functional  aspects  of  culture  and 
the  organized  forms  of  activities  which  we  have  called  ''institutions"? 
The  aspects  define  the  type  of  activity;  at  the  same  time  every  one  of 
them  is  carried  out  by  definite  groups.  Co-operation  implies  spatial  con- 
tiguity. Two  human  beings  of  different  sex  who  are  engaged  in  the  busi- 
ness of  reproduction,  and  who  have  to  rear,  train,  and  provide  for  their 
offspring  cannot  be  separated  by  a  great  distance  in  space.  The  members 
of  the  family  are  subject  to  the  requirement  of  physical  contiguity  in 
the  narrow  sense.  They  form  a  household,  and,  since  the  household  needs 
food,  implies  shelter,  and  the  whole  apparatus  of  domestic  supply,  it  must 
not  only  be  a  reproductive  but  also  an  economic  as  well  as  an  educational 
group  united  by  the  physical  framework  of  habitation,  utensils,  and  joint 

Thus  we  find  that  one  of  the  universal  institutions  of  mankind,  the 
family,  is  not  merely  a  group  of  people  thrown  together  into  a  common 
nook  and  shelter  of  the  environment,  wielding  conjointly  the  definite 
apparatus  of  domicile,  of  material  equipment,  and  a  portion  of  productive 
territory,  but  also  bound  by  a  charter  of  rules  defining  their  mutual  re- 
lations, their  activities,  their  rights,  and  their  privileges.  The  charter  of 
the  family,  moreover,  invariably  defines  the  position  of  the  offspring  by 
reference  to  the  marriage  contract  of  the  parents.  All  the  rules  of  legiti- 
macy, of  descent,  of  inheritance,  and  succession  are  contained  in  it. 

The  territorial  principle  of  integration  produces  yet  another  group:  the 
village  community,  municipal  unit,  horde,  or  territorial  section.  People 
unite  into  villages  or  migratory  hordes,  roaming  together  over  a  joint 
territory — partly  because  there  are  many  tasks  for  which  the  workers 
have  to  unite;  partly  because  they  are  the  natural  groups  for  immediate 
defense  against  animals  and  marauders;  partly  also  because  daily  contact 
and  co-operation  develop  the  secondary  bonds  of  acquaintance  and  affec- 


tion.  And  here  also,  apart  from  the  territorial  unity  with  its  rules  of 
land  tenure,  corporate  or  individual,  apart  from  the  joint  ownership  of 
certain  instruments  such  as  communal  buildings,  apart  from  the  perma- 
nent personnel  of  which  such  a  group  consists,  we  have  also  mythological, 
legal,  and  legendary  charters  from  which  the  sentiments  that  enter  into 
the  bonds  of  membership  are  largely  derived. 

Another  institution  determined  by  the  spatial  principle  and  united 
through  it  on  a  variety  of  functions  is  the  widest  territorial  group,  the 
tribe.  This  unit  as  a  rule  is  organized  on  the  joint  wielding  of  collective 
defense  and  aggression.  It  presents,  even  in  the  most  primitive  forms,  a 
differentiation  and  hierarchy  in  administrative  matters,  in  ceremonial 
proceedings,  and  in  military  or  legal  leadership. 

In  many  parts  of  the  world  political  organization  on  the  territorial 
basis  and  cultural  identity  have  to  be  distinguished.  We  have  in  our 
modern  world  the  minority  problem;  in  primitive  communities  the  symbio- 
sis of  two  races  or  two  culturally  different  communities  under  the  same 
political  regime.  Thus,  identity  of  language,  of  custom,  and  of  material 
culture  constitutes  another  principle  of  differentiation,  integrating  each 
component  part,  and  distinguishing  it  from  the  other. 

We  see,  thus,  that  the  actual  concrete  organization  of  human  activities 
does  not  follow  slavishly  or  exclusively  the  functional  principles  of  type 
activities.  This  refers  more  specifically  to  primitive  groups.  As  civilization 
develops,  we  find  that  law,  education,  and  economics  tend  more  and  more 
to  become  separated  from  such  forms  of  organization  as  the  family,  the 
village,  or  the  age-grade.  They  become  institutionalized  and  bring  into 
being  specialized  professions,  spatially  set  off,  with  constructions  such  as 
factories,  courts,  and  schools.  But  even  in  more  primitive  groups  we  find 
that  certain  occupations  each  tend  to  become  incorporated  into  a  definite 
organization.  Such  groups  as  magicians,  shamans,  potters,  blacksmiths,  or 
herdsman  fall  into  natural  teams,  receiving,  at  least  on  certain  occasions, 
a  spatial  unity — that  is,  specific  rights  to  portions  of  the  territory  and  to 
a  material  outfit  that  they  have  to  wield  under  a  differential  charter  of 
rules  and  traditional  prerogatives.  On  occasions  they  work  and  act 
together  and  in  separation  from  the  rest  of  the  community. 

The  analysis  into  aspects  and  the  analysis  into  institutions  must  be 
carried  out  simultaneously,  if  we  want  to  understand  any  culture  com- 
pletely. The  study  of  such  aspects  as  economics,  education,  or  social 
control  and  poHtical  organization  defines  the  type  and  level  of  the 
characteristic  activities  in  a  culture.  From  the  point  of  view  of  the  indi- 
vidual, the  study  of  these  aspects  discloses  to  us  the  totality  of  motives, 
interests,  and  values.  From  the  point  of  view  of  the  group  it  gives  us  an 
insight  into  the  whole  process  by  which  the  individual  is  conditioned  or 
culturally  formed  and  of  the  group  mechanism  of  this  process. 

The  analysis  into  institutions,  on  the  other  hand,  is  indispensable  be- 



cause  they  give  us  the  concrete  picture  of  the  social  organization  within 
the  culture.  In  each  institution  the  individual  obviously  has  to  become 
cognizant  of  its  charter;  he  has  to  learn  how  to  wield  the  technical 
apparatus  or  that  part  of  it  with  which  his  activities  associate  him;  he 
has  to  develop  the  social  attitudes  and  personal  sentiments  in  which  the 
bonds  of  organization  consist. 

Thus,  in  either  of  these  analyses  the  twofold  approach  through  the 
study  of  the  individual  with  his  innate  tendencies  and  their  cultural 
transformation,  and  the  study  of  the  group  as  the  relationship  and  co- 
ordination of  individuals,  with  reference  to  space,  environment,  and  ma- 
terial equipment,  is  necessary. 

The  cultural  definition  of  symbolism 

One  more  addition,  however,  we  shall  have  to  make  to  our  analysis. 
Right  through  our  arguments  we  have  implied  the  transmission  of  rules, 
the  development  of  general  principles  of  conduct  and  of  technique,  and 
the  existence  of  traditional  systems  of  value  and  sentiment.  This  brings 
us  to  one  more  component  of  human  culture,  symbolism,  of  which  lan- 
guage is  the  prototype.  Symbolism  must  make  its  appearance  with  the 
earliest  appearance  of  human  culture.  It  is  in  essence  that  modification 
of  the  human  organism  which  allows  it  to  transform  the  physiological 
drive  into  a  cultural  value. 

Were  we  to  start  from  the  most  tangible  aspect  of  culture  and  try  to 
imagine  the  first  discovery  and  use  of  an  implement  we  would  see  that 
this  already  implies  the  birth  of  symbolism.  Any  attempt  to  reconstruct 
concretely  and  substantially  the  beginnings  of  culture  must  remain  futile. 
But  we  can  analyze  some  of  the  cultural  achievements  of  early  man  and 
see  what  each  of  them  implies  in  its  essence. 

Imagine  the  transition  from  subhuman  to  human  management  of  any 
environmental  factor:  the  discovery  of  fire,  the  use  of  such  a  simple  un- 
fashioned  implement  as  a  stick  or  a  stone.  Obviously,  the  object  thus  used 
becomes  an  effective  element  in  culture  only  when  it  is  permanently 
incorporated  into  collective  use,  and  the  use  is  traditionally  transmitted. 
Thus  the  recognition  of  the  principle  of  its  utility  was  necessary,  and 
this  principle  had  to  be  fixed  so  as  to  be  communicable  from  one  indi- 
vidual to  another  and  handed  on  to  the  next  generation.  This  alone  means 
that  culture  could  not  originate  without  some  element  of  social  organiza- 
tion— that  is,  of  permanent  relations  between  individuals  and  a  continuity 
of  generations — for  otherwise  communication  would  not  be  possible.  Co- 
operation was  born  in  the  actual  carrying-out  of  any  complex  task,  such 
as  making  fire  and  keeping  it,  and  the  use  of  fire  for  the  preparation  of 
food,  but  co-operation  was  even  more  necessary  in  the  sharing  and  trans- 
mission even  of  the  simplest  principles  of  serviceability  in  production  or 


Incorporation  and  transmission  implied  one  more  element — the  recogni- 
tion of  value.  And  it  is  here  that  we  meet  for  the  first  time  the  mechanism 
of  symbolization.  The  recognition  of  value  means  that  a  deferred  and 
indirect  mechanism  for  the  satisfaction  of  an  urge  becomes  the  object  of 
emotional  response.  Whether  we  imagine  that  the  earliest  human  beings 
communicated  by  elementary  sounds  or  by  gesture  and  facial  expression, 
embodied  and  connected  with  manual  and  bodily  activity,  symbolism  was 
born  with  the  first  deferred  and  indirect  satisfaction  of  any  and  every 
bodily  need. 

The  urges  of  hunger  and  sex,  the  desire  for  personal  comfort  and 
security  were  refocused  and  transferred  onto  an  object  or  a  process  which 
was  the  indirect  means  to  the  end  of  satisfying  a  bodily  need.  This  trans- 
ference of  physiological  urge  on  the  secondary  reality  was  in  its  essence 
symbolic.  Any  of  the  signs,  gestures,  or  sounds  which  led  to  the  definition 
of  an  object,  to  the  reproduction  of  a  process,  to  the  fixation  of  technique, 
utility,  and  value  were  in  essence  as  fully  symbolic  as  a  Chinese  pictogram 
or  a  letter  in  our  alphabet.  For  symbolism  from  its  very  inception  had  to 
be  precise,  in  the  sense  that  it  provided  a  correct  formula  for  the  perma- 
nent incorporation  and  transmission  of  the  cultural  achievement.  It  had 
to  be  effective  in  that  the  drive  of  the  physiological  need  was  transferred 
and  permanently  hitched  upon  the  object,  which  adequately  though 
indirectly  subserved  the  satisfaction  of  this  drive.  The  sign,  sound,  or 
material  presentation,  the  cultural  reality  to  which  it  referred,  and  the 
bodily  desire  which  was  indirectly  satisfied  through  it  became  thus  inte- 
grated into  a  unity  through  the  process  of  conditioned  reflex  and  con- 
ditioned stimulus  which  has  become  the  basis  of  our  understanding  of 
habit,  custom,  and  language  through  the  researches  of  Pavlov  and 

This  analysis  proves  again  that  the  most  important  and  elementary 
process — the  creation  of  cultural  symbolism  and  values — cannot  be 
understood  without  direct  reference  to  individual  psychology  and  physi- 
ology. The  formation  of  habits,  skills,  values,  and  symbols  consists  essen- 
tially in  the  conditioning  of  the  human  organism  to  responses  which  are 
determined  not  by  nature  but  by  culture. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  social  setting  is  indispensable,  because  it  is  the 
group  which  maintains  and  transmits  the  elements  of  symbolism,  and  it  is 
the  group  which  trains  each  individual  and  develops  in  him  the  knowledge 
of  technique,  the  understanding  of  symbols,  and  the  appreciation  of 
values.  We  have  seen  also  that  organizations — that  is,  the  personal  bonds 
which  relate  the  members  of  a  group — are  based  on  the  psychology  and 
physiology  of  the  individual,  because  they  consist  in  emotional  responses, 
in  the  appreciation  of  mutual  services,  and  in  the  apprenticeship  to  the 
performance  of  specific  tasks  by  each  man  within  the  setting  of  his  group. 



The  individual  contributions  and  group  activities 
in  knowledge  and  belief 

The  understanding  of  the  symboHc  process  allows  us  to  consider  another 
class  of  necessities  imposed  upon  man  by  culture.  Obviously,  the  member 
of  any  group  has  to  be  able  to  communicate  with  his  fellow-beings.  But 
this  communication  is  never,  not  even  in  the  highly  differentiated  groups 
of  today,  a  matter  of  detached,  abstract  transmission  of  thought.  In 
primitive  communities,  language  is  used  even  more  exclusively  for 
pragmatic  purposes.  Early  human  beings  used  language  and  symbolism 
primarily  as  a  means  of  co-ordinating  action  or  of  standardizing  tech- 
niques and  imparting  prescriptions  for  industrial,  social,  and  ritual 

Let  us  look  more  closely  at  some  of  these  systems.  To  every  type  of 
standardized  technique  there  corresponds  a  system  of  knowledge  embodied 
in  principles,  which  can  be  imparted  to  those  who  learn,  and  which  help 
to  co-operate  those  who  are  already  trained.  Principles  of  human  knowl- 
edge based  on  true  experience  and  on  logical  reasoning,  and  embodied  in 
verbal  statements,  exist  even  among  the  lowest  primitives.  The  view  that 
primitive  man  has  no  rudiments  of  science,  that  he  lives  in  a  world  of 
mystical  or  magical  ideas,  is  not  correct.  No  culture,  however  simple, 
could  survive  unless  its  techniques  and  devices,  its  weapons  and  economic 
pursuits,  were  based  on  the  sound  appreciation  of  experience  and  on  a 
logical  formulation  of  its  principles.  The  very  first  human  beings  who 
discovered  and  incorporated  fire-making  as  a  useful  art  had  to  appreciate 
and  define  the  material  to  be  used,  its  conditions,  as  well  as  the  technique 
of  friction  and  of  fanning  the  spark  in  the  tinder.  The  making  of  stone 
implements,  and  even  the  selection  of  useful  stones,  implied  a  body  of 
descriptive  rules  which  had  to  be  communicated  from  one  person  to 
another,  both  in  co-operation  and  in  transmission  from  those  who  had 
the  experience  to  those  who  had  to  acquire  it.  Thus  we  can  hst  in  Column 
E  of  our  chart  the  necessity  of  general  symbolic  principles,  which  are 
embodied  as  a  rule  not  merely  in  verbal  statements  but  in  verbal  state- 
ments associated  with  the  actual  demonstration  of  technique  and  material, 
of  physical  context,  and  of  utility  and  value  (Col.  E,  "Transmission  of 
experience  by  means  of  precise,  consistent  principles").  Thus  knowledge, 
or  a  body  of  abstract  symbols  and  verbal  principles  containing  the 
capacity  to  appear  as  empirical  fact  and  sound  reasoning,  is  an  implication 
of  all  cultural  behavior  even  in  its  earliest  beginnings. 

In  Column  F  we  thus  list  knowledge  as  one  of  the  systems  of  symbolic 
integration.  By  knowledge  we  mean  the  whole  body  of  experience  and  of 
principle  embodied  in  language  and  action,  in  techniques  and  organized 
pursuits — in  food-gathering,  with  all  it  implies  of  natural  history,  in 
agriculture,  hunting  and  fishing,  sailing  and  trekking.  Knowledge  also 


implies,  at  every  stage  of  development,  the  familiarity  with  the  rules  of 
co-operation  and  with  all  social  obligations  and  privileges. 

But  once  we  realize  that  even  the  most  primitive  human  beings  devel- 
oped systems  of  thought — that  is,  of  foresight,  of  calculation,  and  of 
systematic  planning — we  are  led  to  another  psychological  necessity  con- 
nected with  the  cultural  satisfaction  of  primary  needs.  The  use  of  knowl- 
edge not  only  shows  man  how  to  achieve  certain  ends,  it  also  reveals  to 
him  the  fundamental  uncertainties  and  limitations  of  his  existence.  The 
very  fact  that  man,  however  primitive,  has  to  think  clearly,  has  to  look 
ahead  and  also  remember  the  successes  and  failures  of  his  past  experience 
makes  him  realize  that  not  every  problem  can  be  solved,  not  every  desire 
satisfied,  by  his  own  efforts. 

From  the  point  of  view  of  individual  psychology  we  see  that  reasonable 
processes  and  emotional  reactions  intertwine.  The  very  calculations,  and 
the  fact  that  the  principles  of  knowledge  have  to  be  built  up  into 
systems  of  thought,  subject  man  to  fear  as  well  as  to  hope.  He  knows 
that  his  desire  is  often  thwarted  and  that  his  expectations  are  subject  to 

It  is  enough  to  remember  that  all  human  beings  are  affected  by  ill- 
health  and  have  to  face  death  ultimately,  that  misfortune  and  natural 
catastrophes,  and  elements  disturbing  the  favorable  run.  of  food-providing 
activities,  always  loom  on  man's  mental  horizon.  The  occurrence  of  such 
acts  of  destiny  engender  not  merely  reflection,  thought,  and  emotional 
responses;  they  force  the  human  group  to  take  action.  Plans  have  to  be 
reorganized  whenever  a  natural  catastrophe  occurs.  The  group  becomes 
disintegrated  by  the  death  of  one  of  its  members,  especially  if  he  is  a 
leading  individual.  Calamity  or  misfortune  thus  affects  the  individual 
personally,  even  as  it  disorganizes  the  group. 

Which  is  the  new,  highly  derived,  yet  emotionally  founded  need  or 
imperative  which  these  considerations  entail?  We  see  that  acting  as  he 
always  does  within  an  atmosphere  of  uncertainty,  with  his  hopes  raised 
and  fears  or  anxieties  aroused,  man  needs  certain  positive  affirmations  of 
stability,  success,  and  continuity.  The  dogmatic  affirmations  of  religion 
and  magic  satisfy  these  needs.  Whether  we  take  such  early  beliefs  as 
totemism,  magic,  or  ancestor  worship;  or  these  beliefs  more  fully  devel- 
oped into  the  concept  of  providence,  a  pantheon  of  gods,  or  one  divinity; 
we  see  that  man  affirms  his  convictions  that  death  is  not  real  nor  yet 
final,  that  man  is  endowed  with  a  j>ersonaHty  wkich  persists  even  after 
death,  and  that  there  are  forces  in  the  environment  which  can  be  tuned 
up  and  propitiated  to  the  trend  of  human  hopes  and  desires. 

We  can  thus  realize  the  dogmatic  essence  of  reHgion  by  the  analysis  of 
individual  mental  processes.  But  here  also  the  group  enters  immediately 
and  no  purely  physiological  or  psychological  analysis  of  the  human  or- 
ganism is  sufficient.  In  the  first  place,  the  reaction  of  man  to  death  and 



disaster  cannot  be  understood  merely  in  terms  of  his  concern  with  himself. 
It  is  the  care  for  those  who  depend  on  him,  and  the  sorrow  for  those  to 
whom  he  was  attached  and  who  disappear,  that  provide  as  much  inspira- 
tion to  rehgious  belief  as  does  the  self -centered  concern  for  his  own  wel- 

Religion,  however,  does  not  end  or  even  begin  with  dogmatic  affirma- 
tions. It  is  a  system  of  organized  activities,  in  ritual  as  well  as  in  ethics. 
Behef  at  no  stage,  certainly  not  the  primitive  levels,  is  a  mere  metaphys- 
ical system.  It  is  a  mode  of  ritual  activity  which  allows  man,  whether 
by  constraint  or  persuasion,  to  manage  the  supernatural  world  brought 
into  being  by  his  desires,  hopes,  fears,  and  anticipations.  All  ritual  be- 
havior, whether  at  burial  and  mourning,  at  commemorative  ceremony  and 
sacrifice,  or  even  in  a  magical  performance,  is  social.  It  is  social  in  the 
sense  that  often  men  and  women  pray,  worship,  and  chant  their  magic 
formula  in  common.  Even  when  a  magical  act  is  performed  in  solitude 
and  secrecy,  it  invariably  has  social  consequences.  Ritual  is  also  social  in 
the  sense  that  the  end  to  be  obtained,  the  integration  of  the  group  after 
death,  the  conjuring-up  of  rain  and  fertility,  of  a  rich  haul  in  fishing,  and 
hunting,  or  of  a  successful  sailing  expedition,  concerns  the  interests  not 
of  a  single  person  but  of  a  group. 

Even  sorcery  and  black  magic  conform  with  the  stipulations  of  our 
argument.  In  the  first  place,  sorcery,  though  carried  out  in  secret, 
produces  powerful  though  negative  social  results.  Again,  sorcery  is,  in 
correct  functional  interpretation,  a  primitive  type  of  explaining  and  ac- 
counting for  ill-health  and  death.  The  whole  system  of  magical  counter- 
action and  cure,  which  is  a  regular  counterpart  of  the  belief  in  black 
magic,  is  the  manner  in  which  primitive  man  satisfies  his  individual 
cravings  for  some  means  of  controlling  a  really  uncontrollable  evil. 
Sociologically  it  brings  about  the  mobilization  of  the  group  consisting  of 
the  kinsmen,  friends,  and  followers  of  the  victim.  Thus  sorcery  and  the 
magical  means  of  combating  it  again  satisfy  certain  psychological  needs 
and  are  accompanied  by  a  sociological  byplay  of  collective  effort  to  deal 
with  the  disaster. 

In  all  this  we  see  once  more  that  a  parallel  consideration  of  individual 
and  organized  group  is  indispensable  in  order  to  give  us  insight  into  the 
foundations,  as  well  as  the  forms,  of  magic  and  reUgion.  The  structure 
of  these  cultural  realities  entails  dogmatic  thought — that  is,  positive 
affirmations  about  the  existence  of  good  and  evil,  of  benevolent  and 
hostile  forces,  residing  in  the  environment  and  capable  of  influencing 
some  of  its  responses.  Such  dogmatic  affirmations  contain  recipes  as  to 
how  the  supernatural  forces  can  be  controlled  through  incantation  and 
prayer,  through  ritual,  sacrifice,  and  collective  or  individual  sacrament. 

Since  religion  consists  by  and  large  of  collective  efforts  to  achieve  ends 
beneficent  to  one  and  all,  we  find  that  every  religious  system  has  also 


its  ethical  factors.  Even  in  a  magical  ceremony,  performed  for  a  successful 
war  or  sailing  expedition,  for  the  counteracting  of  sorcery,  or  for  the 
fertility  of  the  fields,  every  participating  individual  and  the  leader  of  the 
performance  is  carrying  out  a  task  in  which  he  subordinates  his  personal 
interest  to  the  communal  welfare.  Such  ceremonies  carry  with  them  also 
taboos  and  restrictions,  duties  and  obligations.  The  ethics  of  a  magical 
system  consist  in  all  these  rules  and  restrictions  to  which  the  individual 
has  to  submit  in  the  interests  of  the  group. 

The  duties  of  mourning  and  burial,  of  communal  sacrifice  to  ancestor 
ghosts  or  to  totemic  beings,  also  entail  a  number  of  rules,  regulations, 
and  principles  of  conduct  which  constitute  the  ethical  aspect  of  such  a 
ritual  act.  The  structure  of  religion,  therefore,  consists  in  a  dogmatic 
system  of  affirmations,  in  the  technique  of  ritual,  and  in  the  rules  and 
precepts  of  elementary  ethics,  which  define  the  subordination  of  the  indi- 
vidual to  group  welfare. 

If  we  had  time  more  fully  to  analyze  the  source  of  tribal  rhythm,  of 
emotional  and  bodily  recreation,  as  well  as  their  cultural  satisfaction  in 
artistic  creation,  in  sports,  games,  and  tribal  ceremonial,  we  would  find 
also  that  the  need  for  any  such  cultural  activity  can  only  be  understood 
by  reference  to  individual  psychology  and  to  the  needs  of  the  individual 
organism.  The  type  of  satisfaction  for  each  special  need,  however,  implies 
immediately  the  elements  of  tradition,  organization,  and  material  equip- 
ment— that  is,  elements  which  cannot  be  discussed,  still  less  understood, 
without  the  analysis  of  group  life  and  group  organization. 

The  gist  of  the  foregoing  argument  has  been  condensed  in  our  chart  by 
the  entry  *'Means  of  intellectual,  emotional,  and  pragmatic  control  of 
destiny  and  chance"  (Col.  E),  and  in  the  corresponding  entry  of  "Magic 
and  religion"  (Col.  F).  Again,  the  need  for  a  "Communal  rhythm  of 
recreation,  exercise,  and  rest"  (Col.  E)  is  satisfied  by  such  cultural  re- 
sponses as  "Art,  sports,  games,  ceremonial"  (Col.  F). 

Snmmary  and  conclusions 

This  brief  outline  of  the  functional  approach  to  anthropological  field 
work  and  comparative  theory  of  culture  shows  that  at  every  step  we  had 
to  study,  in  a  parallel  and  co-ordinated  manner,  the  individual  and  the 
group,  as  well  as  their  relations.  The  understanding  of  both  these  entities, 
however,  must  be  supplemented  by  including  the  reality  of  environment 
and  material  culture.  The  problem  of  the  relation  between  group  and 
individual  is  so  pervading  and  ubiquitous  that  it  cannot  be  treated 
detached  from  any  question  of  culture  and  of  social  or  psychological 
process.  A  theory  which  does  not  present  and  include  at  every  step  the 
definitions  of  individual  contributions  and  of  their  integration  into  col- 
lective action  stands  condemned.  The  fact  that  functionalism  implies 
this  problem  constantly  and  consistently  may  be  taken  as  a  proof  that, 



so  far  as  it  does,  it  does  not  neglect  one  of  the  most  essential  problems  of 
all  social  science. 

Indeed,  functionalism  is,  in  its  essence,  the  theory  of  transformation  of 
organic — that  is,  individual — needs  into  derived  cultural  necessities  and 
imperatives.  Society  by  the  collective  wielding  of  the  conditioning  ap- 
paratus molds  the  individual  into  a  cultural  personaHty.  The  individual, 
with  his  physiological  needs  and  psychological  processes,  is  the  ultimate 
source  and  aim  of  all  tradition,  activities,  and  organized  behavior. 

The  word  **society"  is  used  here  in  the  sense  of  a  co-ordinated  set  of 
differentiated  groups.  The  juxtaposition  and  opposition  of  "the  indi- 
vidual" and  "the  society,"  as  an  indifferentiated  mass,  is  always  fictitious 
and  therefore  fallacious. 

From  the  structural  approach  we  have  found  that  social  organization 
must  always  be  analyzed  into  institutions — that  is,  definite  groups  of  men 
united  by  a  charter,  following  rules  of  conduct,  operating  together  a 
shaped  portion  of  the  environment,  and  working  for  the  satisfaction  of 
definite  needs.  This  latter  defines  the  function  of  an  institution. 

Here,  once  more,  we  see  that  every  institution  contributes,  on  the  one 
hand,  toward  the  integral  working  of  the  community  as  a  whole,  but  it 
also  satisfies  the  derived  and  basic  needs  of  the  individual.  Thus  the 
family  is  indispensable  to  society  in  supplying  its  members,  training  them, 
and  safeguarding  their  early  stages.  At  the  same  time  to  consider  the  role 
of  the  family  without  reference  to  individuals  in  their  sex  drive,  in  their 
personal  affections,  as  between  husband  and  wife,  parents  and  children,  or 
to  study  the  early  stages  of  life-history  of  the  individual  outside  the 
domestic  circle  would  be  absurd.  The  local  group,  as  the  organization  for 
the  joint  use  of  an  apportioned  territory,  as  the  means  of  collective 
defense,  and  as  the  medium  for  the  primary  division  of  labor,  works  as  a 
part  of  society  and  as  one  of  its  indispensable  organs.  At  the  same  time, 
every  one  of  the  benefits  just  listed  is  enjoyed  by  every  individual  member. 
His  role  and  membership  in  that  group  have  to  be  stated  from  the  point 
of  view  of  psychology,  education,  and  also  of  the  physiological  benefits 
derived  by  each  from  the  joint  activities.  The  tribe  and  state  carries  out 
a  collective  policy  in  war  and  peace,  in  conquest  and  intertribal  or  inter- 
national trade;  but  the  very  existence  of  tribe  or  state  depends  on  the 
quality  of  citizenship,  which  is  an  individual  fact  and  which  consists  in 
the  contributions  toward,  and  the  benefits  derived  from,  the  participation 
of  the  individual  in  group  life. 

Were  we  to  consider  such  institutionalized  activities  as  those  depend- 
ent on  age,  which  are  organized  into  primitive  age-grades  or  the  age 
hierarchies  of  our  civil  service,  military  organization,  or  professional 
work,  we  would  find  again  that  the  problem  must  be  stated  in  terms  both 
of  individual  life-history  and  of  age  as  a  principle  of  social  differentiation 
and  integration. 


In  the  genetic  approach,  the  functionalist  demands  that,  in  field  work 
and  theory  alike,  the  formation  of  such  collective  aptitudes  and  formed 
dispositions  as  taste,  skill,  principle,  dogma,  and  value  be  stated  in  terms  of 
both  individual  and  group.  No  mental  attitude  or  bodily  skill  can  be 
understood  without  reference  both  to  the  innate  individual  and  organic 
endowment  and  to  the  cultural  influences  by  which  it  is  shaped. 

We  have,  in  this  article,  followed  the  gradual  transformation  of  bio- 
logical needs  into  cultural  imperatives  and  satisfactions.  We  have  seen 
that,  starting  from  the  individual  organism  and  its  requirements,  and 
studying  the  cultural  satisfaction  thereof,  we  come  upon  instrumental 
and  integrative  imperatives.  In  every  culture  there  corresponds  to  these 
such  types  of  organized  activities  as  economics,  education,  political  or- 
ganization, and  legal  system;  and  again  organized  rehgion  and  magic,  as 
well  as  artistic  and  recreational  activities. 

If  space  would  allow  we  could  show  that,  since  every  one  of  these 
integrative  pursuits  is  carried  on  by  a  group,  whether  this  be  family, 
clan,  or  congregation;  since  dogma,  mythology,  and  sacred  history  pro- 
vide its  charters;  since  every  ritual  implies  a  Uturgical  apparatus;  and 
since  the  activities  are  integrated  around  a  definite  purpose  or  function, 
the  communion  with  the  supernatural — we  would  find  that  the  integra- 
tive aspects  of  culture  are  again  carried  on  in  institutions,  religious, 
magical,  artistic,  ceremonial,  and  recreational.  The  church,  the  congre- 
gation, the  totemic  clan,  the  magical  or  shamanistic  corporations,  as  well 
as  sporting  teams  and  organizations  of  musicians,  dancers,  and  actors,  are 
examples  of  such  institutions. 

The  individual,  both  in  social  theory  and  in  the  reality  of  cultural 
life,  is  the  starting-point  and  the  end.  The  very  beginning  of  human 
civilization  consists  in  acts  of  rudimentary  mastery  of  implements,  of 
production  of  goods,  and  of  the  incorporation  of  special  achievements 
into  a  permanent  tradition  by  means  of  symbolism.  Society  and  its  com- 
ponent groups  are  the  carriers  of  verbal — that  is,  symbolic — tradition,  the 
guardians  of  communal  wealth,  and  the  joint  operators  of  the  material 
and  spiritual  achievements  of  a  culture.  But  in  all  this  the  ultimate  modi- 
fying power,  the  creative  inspiration,  and  all  impulse  and  invention  come 
from  the  individual. 

Culture  remains  sound  and  capable  of  further  development  only  in  so 
far  as  a  definite  balance  between  individual  interest  and  social  control 
can  be  maintained.  If  this  balance  be  upset  or  wrongly  poised,  we  have 
at  one  end  anarchy,  and  at  the  other  brutal  dictatorship.  The  present 
world  is  threatened  in  its  various  parts  and  through  different  agencies 
both  with  anarchy  and  with  the  brutal  oppression  in  which  the  interests 
of  the  state,  managed  by  small  gangs  with  dictatorial  powers,  are  made 
completely  to  overrule  the  elementary  rights  and  interests  of  the  indi- 
vidual. The  theoretical  discussion  of  the  relation  between  the  individual 



and  the  group  has  thus  in  our  present  world  not  merely  an  academic  but 
also  a  deep  philosophical  and  ethical  significance.  It  cannot  be  too  often  re- 
peated that  any  culture  which  kills  individual  initiative,  and  relegates 
the  interests  of  most  of  its  members  to  complete  insignificance  at  the 
expense  of  a  gang-managed  totalitarian  state,  will  not  be  able  to  develop 
or  even  to  preserve  its  cultural  patrimony. 


Walking  through  one  of  the  suburbs  of  Innsbruck,  the  visitor  might  come 
upon  a  church  not  yet  quite  finished  in  one  of  the  side  streets;  it  stands 
in  a  backyard  of  a  small  suburban  villa.  Sometimes  he  might  encounter 
people  carrying  bricks  and  other  building  material;  if  as  an  amateur 
ethnographer  he  were  to  stop  and  enquire,  he  would  find  that  these  are 
not  professional  masons  and  bricklayers  but  pilgrims — peasants  and  towns- 
people often  coming  from  distant  places  who  supply  the  material  as 
well  as  the  devotion  and  faith  necessary  for  the  construction  of  a  new 
church.  This  is  dedicated  to  St.  Theresa  and  erected  on  a  spot  recently 
become  renowned  for  its  miraculous  properties.  The  miracle  started  with 
a  sensational  event  of  no  mean  importance;  its  traditions,  though  recent, 
have  already  grown  into  the  dimensions  of  a  minor  myth.  A  woman  gave 
birth  to  twins:  they  came  into  the  world  practically  still-born,  the  faith- 
ful say  they  were  already  dead  on  arrival.  The  mother,  a  pious  woman, 
offered  them  to  St.  Theresa,  prayed  and  made  a  vow  that  if  they  were 
restored  to  life  she  would  worship  the  saint  in  a  little  wash-house  in  her 
backyard.  The  saint  acceded  to  her  vows  and  prayers,  the  twins  lived, 
grew  and  prospered;  minor  miracles  followed  the  principal  one.  The 
Church  often  indifferent  and  sometimes  hostile  to  new-fangled  miracles 
took  cognizance  of  this.^  The  wash-house  was  transformed  into  a  small 

The  typescript  of  this  article  is  designated  "Lecture  V;  however,  there  is  no 
indication  in  the  records  of  when  and  where  it  might  have  been  delivered.  It 
appears  to  be  a  draft  of  an  incompleted  address. 

^  One  has  only  to  remember  the  case  of  Joan  of  Arc  and  the  early  hostility  of  the 
Church  to  the  claims  of  Bernadette  Soubirous  at  Lourdes.  A  few  years  ago  the  press 
reported  throughout  the  world  an  interesting  case  from  Hungary  where  three  saints 
appeared  to  the  faithful,  drew  large  audiences  and  performed  miracles.  For  some  reasons 
of  its  own  the  Catholic  Church  refused  to  associate  its  authority  with  these  miracles. 
The  gendarmerie  were  summoned  and  finally  the  fire  brigade  were  called  and  turned 
their  hose  on  the  faithful.  The  fire  of  enthusiasm  of  the  faithful,  deemed  inapt  by  State 
and  Church,  was  thus  finally  quenched. 



chapel:  its  miraculous  properties  became  known,  the  services  were  attended 
to  overflowing,  and  finally  a  collection  was  made  to  build  a  large  church. 

This  is  a  recent,  well-attested  and  typical  process  by  which  among  a 
religious  people,  a  new  minor  cult,  a  new  rallying  point  for  belief  and  a 
new  tradition  spring  up  simultaneously.  It  is  a  close  parallel  to  Lourdes, 
Loretto,  to  Santiago  de  Compostela  and  to  the  innumerable  shrines,  altars 
and  places  of  miraculous  power  at  which  we  Roman  Catholics  worship 
God  through  his  saints:  we  believe  that  on  the  very  spot  in  connection 
with  a  statue,  a  picture  or  a  relic,  miraculous  grace  can  be  attained. 

Roman  Catholicism  does  not  stand  alone.  A  visitor  to  Salt  Lake  City 
will  naturally  inspect  the  Tabernacle  and  the  row  of  houses  in  which 
Brigham  Young  and  his  wives  lived;  he  will  admire  the  wonderful 
energy,  social  organisation  and  moral  strength  which  created  a  flourishing 
community  out  of  a  desert.  He  would  understand  how  a  powerful  religion 
can  create  a  vigorous  community  and  lead  to  great  works.  A  scrutiny  of 
the  foundation  of  this  faith  sooner  or  later  discloses  the  most  interesting 
myth  which  tells  of  how  God  revealed  to  Joseph  Smith  the  foundation  of 
a  new  faith  and  a  new  social  order.  Again  we  have  a  new  myth,  a  new 
ritual,  a  new  morality  growing  as  it  were  out  of  one  event  simultaneously 
and  in  close  inter-relation.  Whether  we  take  Christian  Science  with  its 
sensational  birth  in  a  miraculous  cure  and  revelation  or  the  Society  of 
Friends  with  its  almost  complete  denial  of  miracles,  yet  with  its  sacred 
tradition  of  the  Founder  and  his  supremely  ethical  personality,  we  would 
find  everywhere  that  the  works  of  religion  and  its  beliefs  must  have 
sacred  tradition  as  its  groundwork,  and  that  the  miraculous  element 
whether  in  a  purely  ethical  or  magical  form  must  have  precedence  to  be 

All  this  seems  common-sense  enough  to  escape  being  seriously  ques- 
tioned. It  may,  in  fact,  appear  so  simple  as  to  be  hardly  worth  considera- 
tion as  an  important  scientific  contribution  to  the  comparative  study  of 
human  religion.  And  yet  the  impHcation  of  the  simple  truth  that  myth 
must  be  studied  in  its  social,  ritual  and  ethical  effects  rather  than  as  an 
imaginative  and  pseudo-scientific  tale  has  been  almost  completely  dis- 
regarded in  the  study  of  the  subject.  This  I  shall  briefly  show  in  the 
following  pages. 

For  the  present  let  me  just  indicate  that  the  ethnographer,  working 
among  primitive  people,  will  find  everywhere  similar  conditions.  Among 
the  Palaeolithic  inhabitants  of  Central  AustraUa  all  the  elaborate  ritual 
of  magic  and  religion  is  intimately  bound  up  with  the  sacred  body  of 
tradition  which  might  almost  be  called  the  totemic  gospels  of  these 
people.  Exactly  as  we  carry  out  our  ritual  of  baptism  because  of  our 
doctrine  of  original  sin,  and  believe  in  this  dogma  because  of  what  we 
are  told  in  the  Book  of  Genesis,  so  they  have  to  initiate  their  young  in 
order  to  make  them  full  human  beings.  And  their  belief  is  born  from 



their  primitive  gospels  where  man  was  changed  from  an  incomplete  and 
uncircumcised  creature  into  full  bodily  and  spiritual  man  by  the  will  of  a 
benevolent  totemic  spirit.  Among  the  Pueblo  Indians,  as  we  shall  see,  a 
rich  mythology  dictates  the  belief  that  fertility  can  be  obtained  by 
dramatic  representation  of  ancestral  doings,  by  a  ritual  appeal  to  those 
forces  of  nature  which  once  upon  a  time  were  revealed  in  a  personified 
form  in  great  miraculous  events  of  the  past.  In  some  parts  of  Melanesia 
magic  performs  miracles  to-day  because  it  is  a  repetition  of  spells  and 
rites  which  once  upon  a  time  created  the  great  miracles  of  the  Golden 

A  sociological  definition  of  myth 

What  is  then  the  fact  of  a  myth?  Briefly,  that  all  the  principal  tenets  of 
religious  belief  have  a  tendency  to  be  spun  out  into  concrete  stories;  in 
the  second  place,  these  stories  are  never  mere  accounts  of  what  happened 
in  the  past.  Every  act  of  ritual,  every  artistic  representation  of  religious 
subjects,  in  the  worship  of  relics  and  sacred  places  in  short,  in  all  the 
visual  signs  of  past  sensational  acts  of  grace  every  theme  is  revivified.  The 
events  of  the  mythological  past  play  also  a  leading  part  in  moral  conduct 
and  social  organisation. 

That  myth  is  in  a  way  a  mere  unfolding  of  dogma  even  a  cursory 
glance  at  any  religion  will  show.  The  behef  in  immortality,  the  dogma  of 
individual  survival,  has  given  rise  to  the  innumerable  stories  of  how  once 
man  was  made  to  live  for  ever  on  earth,  how  through  a  mistake  of  a 
supernatural  messenger,  or  through  his  own  sin,  or  through  a  mere 
technical  error,  man  lost  his  eternal  life.^  The  belief  in  Providence  and 
in  the  great  architect  of  the  universe  is  embodied  in  numberless  mytho- 
logical cosmologies.  On  the  shores  of  the  Pacific  and  on  its  many  islands, 
we  are  told  how  the  world  was  fished  out  of  the  sea  or  moulded  out  of 
slime;  or  again,  from  other  continents,  we  have  stories  relating  how  out 
of  chaos  the  various  parts  of  the  universe  have  been  shaped  in  succession, 
or  how  the  earth  was  hurled  from  space,  or  out  of  darkness,  by  a  divine 
maker.  The  wide  range  of  beliefs  which  are  usually  labelled  "nature  wor- 
ship" again  have  a  rich  mythology  of  totemic  ancestors:  of  the  early 
appearance  and  miraculous,  though  not  always  moral,  behavior  of  nature 
gods,  of  the  early  contacts  between  man  and  his  Guardian  Spirit.  In  the 
analysis  which  follows  of  Axistralian  totemic  mythology,  of  the  tales  and 
sagas  connected  with  Pueblo  nature  worship  as  well  as  the  specimens  of 
Melanesian  mythology,  I  supply  full  documentation  of  this  statement. 

Wisdom,  like  charity,  ought  to  begin  at  home.  The  principle  here 
stated  can  be  best  appreciated  by  anyone,  in  relation  to  his  own  religious 
convictions.  I  suggest  that  if  we  were  to  take  any  of  the  living  dogmas 

^See  Sir  James  George  Frazer,  Fol\-Lore  in  the  Old  Testament  [abr.  ed.,  1923], 
"The  Fall  of  Man." 



of  our  own  religion,  we  would  find  that  they  are  founded  on  our  sacred 
traditions.  The  Roman  Catholic  may  lay  a  greater  stress  on  the  teaching 
of  the  Church,  the  Protestant  may  go  straight  through  the  Bible,  but  in 
the  long  run  it  is  the  sacred  tradition,  oral  or  written,  which  supphes  the 
foundation  of  all  belief;  the  sacred  tradition,  of  course,  including  the 
theological  interpretation  and  additions. 

I  have  already  mentioned  the  dogma  of  original  sin;  the  dogma  of 
atonement  is  expressed  in  the  whole  of  the  New  Testament  and  centred 
on  the  sacrifice  on  Mount  Calvary;  the  dogma  of  real  or  symbolic 
presence  in  the  sacrament  has  to  be  interpreted  by  reference  to  accounts 
of  the  Last  Supper.  The  belief  in  the  constitution  of  our  Trinity,  the 
three  persons  in  their  real  relationship — a  point  on  which  a  good  deal  of 
theological  dispute  and  human  blood  has  been  spilt — finds  its  ultimate 
sources  in  the  several  events  of  the  Bible.  To  indicate  my  own  naive  con- 
viction from  the  time  when  I  was  a  believing,  practising  Christian,  I 
always  thought  at  the  Creation,  God,  the  Father,  acted  in  his  private 
capacity,  that  later  on,  somehow,  God,  the  Son,  appeared  on  the  stage,  at 
first  foreshadowed  in  the  Old  Testament,  then  as  the  full  personality  in 
the  gospels.  The  Holy  Ghost,  to  me  always  a  somewhat  shadowy,  un- 
substantial part  of  divinity,  seemed  to  hover  in  the  distance,  present,  no 
doubt,  even  when  "darkness  was  on  the  face  of  the  deep."  In  fact,  I 
somehow  felt  that  "when  the  spirit  moved  on  the  face  of  the  waters"  it 
might  have  done  so  most  conveniently  in  a  winged  form — that  of  a  dove. 
And  aided,  I  think,  by  some  pictures,  I  perceived  the  ship  of  God,  the 
Father,  floating  above  the  dark  waves  of  the  primeval  ocean.  I  am  putting 
all  this  on  record  because  I  know  from  personal  experience  that  no 
abstract  dogma  is  sufficient  substance  for  living  belief.  Belief,  in  its  live 
form,  turns  to  the  real  figures  of  sacred  history  as  the  act  and  word 
establishing  salvation.  Take,  then,  one  living  dogma  after  another. 
Whether  we  be  Catholic  or  Protestant,  Jew  or  Gentile,  Buddhist  or  fol- 
lower of  Mrs.  Eddy,  Spiritist  or  Mormon,  follow  it  up  to  its  living  roots 
and  we  will  find  that  it  leads  back  to  some  sacred  events,  or,  at  least,  to 
some  implication  of  a  great  picture  emerging  out  of  a  story,  of  creation, 
of  fall,  of  the  tribulation  of  a  chosen  people,  or  of  the  fervent  visions  of 
the  prophets. 

It  might  not  be  so  easy,  perhaps,  to  do  the  reverse,  to  take  an  incident, 
even  an  important  incident,  in  our  holy  writings,  and  to  show  how  it  has 
crystallised  into  a  specific  doctrine  of  faith,  into  a  moral  precept,  or  into 
a  dogma  of  social  behaviour.  But  of  such  an  examination  the  results 
would  be  astonishing.  The  Flood,  for  instance,  seems  at  first  sight  to  be 
nothing  but  a  dramatic  tale.  In  reality — and  here  I  speak  again  largely 
from  personal  experiences  of  living  faith — the  Flood  is  a  mythological 
proof  in  vindication  of  God's  moral  vigilance.  When  humanity  went 



completely  astray,  God  was  there  to  chastise  men  and  women  and  to 
award  one  exception.  The  Flood  was  a  miracle,  and  a  miracle  with  a 
moral  implication;  it  stands  as  testimony  of  God's  interest  in  moral 
behaviour  and  to  his  supreme  justice. 

It  is  easier,  perhaps,  to  treat  Christianity  in  the  anthropological  spirit 
than  to  approach  savage  and  primitive  religions  with  a  truly  Christian 
mind.  The  un-Christian  attitude  displayed  by  many  of  us  towards  primi- 
tive beliefs,  our  conviction  that  they  are  just  idle  superstitions  and  gross 
forms  of  idolatry,  has  deeply  affected  the  study  of  primitive  religions  by 
Europeans.  Savage  tales  of  a  sacred  character  have  often  been  taken  as 
mere  idle  fiction.  Had  it  been  recognised  that  they  are  the  counterparts  of 
our  own  sacred  writings,  those  who  have  collected  them  might  perhaps 
have  studied  more  fully  the  ethical,  ritual  and  social  influence  of  primitive 
mythology.  Thus,  ethnographic  evidence  has  to  be  largely  vitiated  by  a 
false  theoretical  approach  to  the  subject.  Again,  in  the  study  of  some 
historical  religions,  of  Egypt,  Vedic  India,  Mesopotamia,  of  the  ancient 
orient,  we  have  a  full  documentation  of  their  sacred  writings,  a  much 
more  limited  account  of  their  ritual,  and  hardly  any  data  available  of 
how  their  religions  were  actually  lived  in  morals,  social  institutions  and 
public  life. 

I  am  saying  all  this  in  order  to  draw  the  intelligent  reader's  attention 
to  the  fact  that  the  best  understanding  of  religion  can  be  obtained  by  an 
objective  view  of  what  we  believe  in  practice  in  our  own  society.  The 
next  best  can  be  achieved  by  a  really  scientific  study  of  exotic  religions 
as  they  are  practised  to-day  by  non-Christian  communities.  The  under- 
standing of  dead  religions  of  which  we  have  only  scattered  data  and 
fragmentary  documents  and  monuments  is  not  the  royal  road  for  the 
comprehensive  study  of  religion. 

The  point  of  view  here  developed  has  then  as  its  main  philosophic  basis 
the  principle  that  the  most  important  thing  about  a  religion  is  how  it  is 
lived.  "Faith  apart  from  works  is  barren."  Since  myth  is  an  inevitable 
background  of  faith,  its  very  backbone  indeed,  we  have  to  study  myth  as 
it  affects  the  life  of  people. 

In  anthropological  jargon,  this  means  that  myth  or  sacred  story  has  to 
be  defined  by  its  function.  It  is  a  story  which  is  told  in  order  to  establish 
a  belief,  to  serve  as  a  precedent  in  ceremony  or  ritual,  or  to  rank  as  a 
pattern  of  moral  or  religious  conduct.  Mythology,  therefore,  or  the 
sacred  tradition  of  a  society,  is  a  body  of  narratives  woven  into  their 
culture,  dictating  their  belief,  defining  their  ritual,  acting  as  the  chart  of 
their  social  order  and  the  pattern  of  their  moral  behaviour.  Every  myth 
has  naturally  a  literary  content,  since  it  is  always  a  narrative,  but  this 
narrative  is  not  merely  a  piece  of  entertaining  fiction  or  explanatory 
statement  to  the  believer.  It  is  a  true  account  of  sensational  events  which 



have  shaped  the  constitution  of  the  world,  the  essence  of  moral  conduct, 
and  determines  the  ritual  contact  between  man  and  his  maker,  or  other 
powers  that  be. 

It  may  be  well  at  this  point  of  the  argument  to  pause  for  a  moment 
and  draw  the  attention  of  the  reader,  especially  if  he  be  a  layman,  to  the 
fact  that  we  are  not  elaborating  a  commonplace.  It  is  maintained  here 
that  myth  is  an  intrinsic  part  in  the  make-up  of  any  religion,  more  pre- 
cisely that  it  supplies  the  charter  for  ritual,  belief,  moral  conduct  and 
social  organisation.  This  implies  that  myth  is  not  a  piece  of  primitive 
science,  nor  yet  a  primeval  philosophic  allegory  of  a  semi-poetic,  rhapsodic 
nature,  nor  yet  a  strangely  garbled  historic  account.  Hence  the  primary 
function  of  myth  is  neither  to  explain,  nor  to  recount  past  historical 
events,  nor  to  express  the  fantasies  or  crystallised  day-dreams  of  a  com- 
munity. This  view  is  not  new  or  revolutionary;  I  have  formulated  it  at  an 
earlier  period,  more  clearly,  as  it  seemed  to  me  then,  too  emphatically  as 
was  said  by  some  of  my  colleagues,  but  the  whole  approach  is  an  actual 
outcome  of  modern  humanistic  trends.  The  whole  emphasis  on  the  social 
aspect  of  religion,  first  recognised  by  Robertson  Smith,  later  developed  by 
Durkheim,  by  Hubert  Morse  and  Radcliffe-Brown,  brings  near  to  us  the 
question  of  the  social  aspect  of  mythology.  The  emphasis  laid  on  behaviour 
and  conduct  in  modern  social  sciences  would  also  lead  us  to  enquire 
whether  mythology  does  or  does  not  affect  the  ritual  and  moral  behaviour 
of  man.  The  psycho-analytic  connection  of  myth  with  dreams  and  day- 
dreams, with  fantasies  and  ideals,  distorted  though  it  might  appear  in 
many  points  to  the  unanalysed  and  uninitiated  average  citizen,  does  em- 
phasise the  dynamic  aspect  of  myth,  its  connection  with  the  constitution 
of  the  human  family  in  its  pragmatic  aspect.  But  above  all,  the  so-called 
functional  approach,  in  the  treatment  of  cultural  phenomena,  leads  us 
directly  to  the  study  of  myth  through  its  cultural  function.  This  approach 
insists  on  the  fact  that  ideas,  ritualised  activities,  moral  rules,  do  not 
lead,  in  any  culture,  an  isolated  existence  in  water-tight  compartments; 
that  Man  acts  because  he  believes  and  he  believes  because  the  truth  has 
been  revealed  to  him  in  a  miraculous  presentation;  that  sacred  tradition, 
moral  standards,  and  ritual  ways  of  approaching  Providence  are  not 
isolated  but  that  they  work  one  on  another,  seems  an  almost  self-evident 
assertion.  That  this  is  not  the  case  a  rapid  survey  of  some  theories  of 
myth,  current  or  recently  advanced,  will  readily  convince  us. 

Previous  theories  of  folklore 

Every  one  of  these  last-mentioned  views  has  at  one  time  or  another 
dominated  the  scientific  or  pre-scientific  conception  of  myth.  Euhemerists, 
ancient  and  modern,  hold  that  myth  always  centres  round  a  kernel  or 
core  of  historical  truth,  misrepresented  by  false  symbolism  and  literary 
embellishments.  Euhemerism  still  survives  in  all  those  approaches  which 



used  primitive  tradition  to  establish  historical  fact.  There  is  a  great 
deal  of  truth  in  this  view;  the  legends  of  Polynesia  do  contain  undoubtedly 
a  historical  kernel.  The  reinterpretation  of  oriental  mythology  by  Elliot 
Smith,  Perry  and  [A.  M.]  Hocart  has  contributed  to  our  knowledge  of 
certain  phases  in  the  diffusion  of  culture.  At  the  same  time  it  is  certain 
that  the  search  for  the  historical  kernel  in  the  tribal  tradition  of  the 
community  touches  but  one  aspect  of  the  problem  and  probably  not  the 
most  essential.  It  certainly  does  not  define  the  actual  sociological  function 
of  mythology.  The  main  object  of  sacred  tradition  is  not  to  serve  as  a 
chronicle  of  past  events;  it  is  to  lay  down  the  effective  precedent  of  a 
glorified  past  for  repetitive  actions  in  the  present.  The  historical  assess- 
ment of  myth,  useful  as  it  may  be  in  many  cases,  has  to  be  supplemented 
by  the  sociological  theory  of  myth  for  two  reasons.  First  of  all,  if  the 
views  here  developed  are  correct,  it  is  of  the  greatest  importance  that  the 
field  worker  should  not  merely  study  the  text  of  a  sacred  story  or 
legend,  but  also,  above  all,  its  pragmatic  effects  on  the  social  organisation, 
religious  practices  and  moral  conduct  of  the  living  society.  In  the  second 
place,  the  theoretical  explanation  of  miraculous,  obscene,  or  extravagant 
elements  in  the  myth  cannot  be  achieved  by  treating  such  elements  as 
distortions  of  historical  facts.  They,  as  well  as  many  other  motives  of 
historical  narratives,  can  only  be  understood  by  reference  to  ritual, 
ethical,  and  social  influences  of  the  story  on  present  day  conduct. 

The  theory  that  the  nature  of  myth  consists  in  an  allegorical  presenta- 
tion of  natural  phenomena  is  associated  in  this  country  with  the  name  of 
Max  Miiller.  Here  again,  it  would  be  wrong  to  reject  his  contribution  en 
bloc.  For  there  is  no  doubt  that  men's  interest  in  certain  phases  of  nature, 
above  all  in  the  growth  of  plants  and  in  the  reproduction  of  animals,  has 
been  expressed  in  religious  rites,  and  these,  as  we  know,  are  connected  with 
mythology.  But  nature  symbolism,  especially  as  it  is  practised  up  to  this 
very  day  by  certain  schools  of  thought  in  Germany,  has  short-circuited 
the  problem  by  eliminating  the  intermediary  link  of  ritual,  prayer  and 
religious  belief.  It  has  instead  introduced  two  false  concepts.  One  of  them 
is  the  view  that  the  real  nature  of  myths  is  completely  misconceived  by 
those  who  now  tell  them  and  believe  in  them.  In  other  words,  that  the 
allegoric  or  esoteric  meaning  of  the  combats,  of  the  ordeals,  of  the  crimes, 
triumphs  and  heroic  deeds — which  in  reality  are  but  cryptic  accounts  of 
the  courses  of  the  sun,  of  the  phases  of  the  moon,  of  the  growth  and 
decay  of  vegetation — corresponds  to  a  primitive  or  a  mythopoeic  phase 
of  humanity.  This,  our  learned  colleagues  would  tell  us,  can  only  be 
elucidated  by  a  sound  intuition,  which  allows  us  to  guess  at  the  inward 
meaning  of  the  allegory.  To  the  present  writer,  it  is  quite  clear  from  his 
personal  experience  in  the  field,  as  well  as  from  his  perusal  of  literature, 
that  this  assumption  of  an  entirely  different  mentality  which  created 
myths,  and  of  another  which  practised  them,  is  unsatisfactory.  The  events 



recounted  in  myths  are  so  closely  related  to  what  human  beings  are 
doing  now,  albeit  on  a  magnified,  miraculous  scale,  that  no  esoteric  ex- 
planation is  satisfactory  to  account  for  the  nature  of  myth.  The  other 
weakness  in  this  type  of  explanation  lies  in  their  assumption  not  only  that 
the  whole  substance  of  a  mythological  narrative  is  symbolic,  but  that  all 
the  symbolism  refers  to  one  or  to  another  process  of  nature.  Thus,  accord- 
ing to  some  writers,  all  myths  can  be  reduced  to  the  course  of  the  sun, 
and  nothing  else;  or,  according  to  others,  to  the  phases  of  the  moon;  yet 
others  see  in  them  the  processes  of  growth  and  development  of  plants  or 
beasts  only.  But  if  the  view  here  presented  is  right,  and  mythology 
follows  belief,  ritual  and  morality,  then  even  these  references  to  natural 
processes  or  astronomic  events,  which  we  find  actually  in  myths,  must 
differ  from  tribe  to  tribe  and  from  region  to  region.  Where  climate  and 
soil  allow  men  to  develop  agriculture,  the  magic  and  religion  of  the  people 
will  centre  round  the  life  of  plants,  and  myth  will  contain  references  to 
the  growth  and  decay  of  crops,  to  the  influences  of  sun,  wind  and  rain. 
Hunter's  moon,  in  any  case,  is  important,  because  it  regulates  tribal  life 
through  its  place  in  the  calendar.  Without  underrating,  therefore,  the  role 
of  nature  worship  in  religion  and  of  references  to  natural  processes  in 
mythology,  I  would  like  to  insist  that  both  must  be  studied  through  the 
three-fold  approach  of  religious  dogma,  ethics  and  ritual. 

In  combatting  the  allegorical  interpretation  of  Max  Miiller,  Andrew 
Lang  developed  the  aetiological  theory  of  primitive  myth.  In  one  way  this 
was  an  advance  because  it  assigned  a  more  business-like  role  for  myth  in 
primitive  culture.  Yet  it  was  vitiated  by  the  way  in  which  its  sponsor 
formulated  it.  Let  me  quote  his  own  words:  "Savage  men  are  like  our- 
selves in  curiosity  and  anxiety,  causas  cognoscere  rerum,  but  with  our 
curiosity  they  do  not  possess  our  powers  of  attention.  They  are  as  easily 
satisfied  with  an  explanation  of  phenomena  as  they  are  eager  to  possess  an 
explanation."  "The  savage  stage  of  thought"  which  for  civilised  observers 
resembles  a  "temporary  madness"  (Miiller)  seeks  an  explanation  of 
phenomena  which  presents  itself  "and  that  explanation  he  makes  for 
himself  or  receives  from  tradition,  in  the  shape  of  a  myth.  .  .  .  Savage 
mythology,  which  is  also  savage  science,  has  a  reply  to  questions"  (of  the 
origin  of  the  world,  of  man  and  of  beasts)  Now  the  fact  is  that,  on  the 
whole,  neither  we,  nor  the  savages,  have  a  natural  curiosity  for  the  knowl- 
edge of  causes.  This  curiosity  in  civilised  man  resides  exclusively  in  the 
highly  technical  and  differentiated  scientific  interest  which  is  a  product  of 
a  far-reaching  division  of  labour.  On  the  other  hand,  savages,  Hke  our- 
selves, must  possess  a  sound,  empirical,  and  practical  knowledge  which 
they  need  in  all  their  technical  processes,  economic  pursuits  and  collective 
activities  on  a  large  scale,  such  as  war,  sailing  and  trekking.  To  equate 

^Article  on  "Mythology,"  by  Andrew  Lang,  Encyclopedia  Britannica,  12th  Edit., 
1922,  pp.  131-32. 



savage  mythology  with  savage  science  is  one  of  the  greatest  acts  of 
violence  perpetrated  in  the  theoretical  treatment  of  human  culture.  It 
has  given  rise  to  the  later  theories  about  the  entirely  different  mentality 
of  primitive  man,  about  the  prelogical  mentality  of  savages  and  about  the 
incapability  of  scientific  or  empirical  thinking.  The  very  fact  that  we 
have  our  own  mythology  quite  as  developed  as  a  primitive  for  fulfilling 
the  same  function  might  have  taught  all  the  theorists  of  myth  as  an  out- 
come of  a  different  earlier  mind,  that  their  theories,  to  say  the  least,  were 
insufficient.  Yet  all  these  views  still  influence  modern  scientific  thought.* 
The  somewhat  eclectic  and  vague  statement  of  the  subject  by  Professor 
Ruth  Benedict  in  the  Encyclopaedia  of  Social  Science,  vide  "Myth"  and 
"Folklore,"  shows  an  advance  from  previous  theories  of  myth.  In  this  last- 
named  article  we  find  the  following  summing  up:  "Modern  folklorist 
study  is  freeing  itself  from  preconceptions  and  of  far-fetched  allegories 
and  is  founding  itself  upon  the  importance  of  folklore  as  a  social 
phenomena,  and  as  a  means  of  expression  by  a  social  group  of  its  own 
attitudes  and  cultural  life.  By  regarding  folklore  as  a  cultural  trait  like 
technology,  social  organisation,  or  religion,  any  special  consideration  of 
communal  authorship  is  made  unnecessary,  since  myths  are  as  much  or 
as  little  due  to  communal  creation  as  marriage  or  fertility  rites.  All  cul- 
tural traits,  including  folk  tales,  are  in  the  last  analysis  individual  crea- 
tions determined  by  cultural  conditioning"  (p.  291,  1931).  And  again, 
in  article  s.v.  "Myth":  "Myth  is  among  some  peoples  the  keystone  of  the 
religious  complex,  and  religious  practices  are  unintelligible,  except  by 
way  of  their  mythology"  (p.  180).  But  she  considers  that  "The  origin 
of  religion  is  not  to  be  sought  in  mythological  concepts,  nor  the  origin  of 
myth  in  religion,  but  the  two  have  constantly  cross-fertilised  each  other, 
and  the  resulting  complex  is  a  product  of  both  primary  traits."  The 
view  taken  that  folklore  expresses  social  attitudes  or  that  mythology  and 
religion  cross-fertilised  each  other  does  not  reach  the  clear  recognition  of 

*  Compare,  for  instance,  the  two  last  editions  of  Notes  arid  Queries  in  Anthropology. 
In  the  last  but  one  edition,  we  find  the  definition  of  myth  as  "stories  which  are  intended 
to  explain  an  abstract  idea  or  vague  and  difficult  conception,"  page  210.  This  is,  of 
course,  Andrew  Lang  with  a  vengeance.  In  the  last  edition,  the  substance  of  the  theory 
here  advanced  was  accepted  completely;  indeed,  large  chunks  from  a  previous  publica- 
tion of  mine  are  included  (unfortunately  without  acknowledgements,  without  inverted 
commas,  and  without  my  permission).  On  page  329,  lines  19  to  23  are  the  verbal 
repetition  of  a  sentence  on  pages  119  to  120  of  my  Myth  in  Primitive  Psychology,  lines 
24  to  33  are  word  for  word  with  only  slight  abbreviations  taken  over  from  Myth  in 
Primitive  Psychology,  page  124.  Again  the  article  on  "Myth"  in  the  12th  Edit,  of  the 
Ency.  Brit,  was  written  by  Lang  and  contains  a  clear  statement  of  the  aetiological  theory 
of  myth.  The  14th,  the  last  one  to  contain  a  new  article  on  myth,  gives  a  brief  summary 
of  various  theories  and  ends  up  with  a  statement  of  the  functional  and  sociological  in- 
terpretation of  myth,  and  contains  the  quotation  from  Myth  in  Primitive  Psychology  by 
the  present  writer. 



the  specific  social  function  of  myth  as  a  charter  of  ritual  belief,  ethics 
and  social  organisation.  In  fact,  Professor  Benedict  explicitly  criticises 
the  views  advanced  by  myself  in  her  article  on  myth.  She  denies  that  the 
functional  nature  of  myth  as  a  charter  of  social  organisation,  religious 
belief,  and  ritual  practices  is  universal. 

We  can  therefore  conclude  that  the  view  here  advanced  is  making 
headway,  but  that  it  has  not  yet  been  universally  accepted  or  clearly 
recognised.  Yet  it  is  by  no  means  a  new  or  original  theory  of  the  present 
writer.  As  in  many  other  matters  we  owe  the  first  flash  of  insight  to 
that  great  Scot  scholar  Robertson  Smith.  Robertson  Smith  was  perhaps 
the  first  clearly  to  recognise  the  sociological  aspect  in  all  human  religions 
and  also  to  emphasise,  at  times  perhaps  to  over-emphasise,  the  importance 
of  ritual  as  against  dogma  {Religion  of  the  Semites,  3rd  ed.,  1927). 
Religion,  according  to  him,  is  rather  a  fixed  body  of  practices  than  a 
system  of  dogmas.  There  may  perhaps  be  a  slight  exaggeration  in  his 
statement  that  "antique  religions  have,  for  the  most  part,  no  creed;  they 
consisted  entirely  of  institutions  and  practices"  {op.  cit.,  p.  16).  For  in 
another  place  he  is  more  correct  in  saying  that  ^'mythology  takes  the 
place  of  dogma.  .  .  The  rite,  in  short,  was  connected,  not  with  a 
dogma  but  with  a  myth"  (p.  17).  If  we  are  correct  in  stating,  not  that 
each  myth  contains  a  dogma,  but  that  most  dogmas  have  their  foundation 
in  myth,  we  see  that  Robertson  Smith  has  anticipated  fully  the  point  of 
view  here,  that  "so  far  as  the  way  of  thinking  expressed  in  a  myth  is 
not  already  expressed  in  the  ritual  itself,  it  had  no  properly  religious 
sanction;  the  myth,  apart  from  the  ritual,  affords  only  a  doubtful  and 
slippery  kind  of  evidence."  In  this,  Robertson  Smith  recognises  clearly 
that  any  narrative  has  to  be  assessed  by  the  function  that  it  plays  in 
organised  religious  behaviour.  I  would  say  that  a  myth  that  is  not  ex- 
pressed in  ritual  is  not  a  myth  but  merely  an  old  wives'  or  an  old  men's 
tale.  In  other  words,  any  definition  or  classification  of  folklore  that 
ignores  its  influence  on  ritual  and  also  on  social  organisation  must  remain 
barren.  This  is  implied  already  in  Robertson  Smith's  view  that  "reUgion 
was  the  body  of  fixed  religious  practices  .  .  .  and  practice  preceded 
doctrinal  theory"  (p.  19).  At  present  we  do  not  worry  so  much  over 
the  prius-posterus,  but  we  retain  the  principle  that  doctrinal  theory 
and  traditional  practices  are  two  aspects  of  the  same  thing;  that  they 
grow  up  together  and  that  to  study  one  without  the  other  is  a  fundamental 
error  of  method. 

Robertson  Smith's  view  has  influenced  many  subsequent  writers;  Dr. 
E.  A.  Gardner,  writing  on  myth,  in  Hastings'  Encyclopaedia  of  Religion 
and  Ethics y  [states]  that  "mythology,  by  its  explanations  and  illustra- 
tions of  the  nature  and  character  of  the  gods  or  other  powers,  would 
help  man  to  keep  his  relations  with  them  on  the  right  basis."  This  might 



seem  like  a  compromise  between  Andrew  Lang  and  Robertson  Smith,  but 
as  long  as  explanation  is  meant  as  a  code  and  a  charter  for  the  correct 
carrying  out  of  ritual  practices,  the  essence  of  myth  is  correctly  stated. 
The  two  volumes  of  Frazer's  monumental  work  on  the  cults  and  myths  of 
Adonis,  Attis  and  Osiris  contain  a  documentation  of  the  point  of  view 
here  developed,  pervaded  throughout  as  they  are  by  the  principles  of 
Robertson  Smith  and  the  great  insight  of  the  author  of  The  Golden 
Bough  himself. 

But  where  the  inadequacy  of  the  present  state  of  anthropological  knowl- 
edge makes  itself  most  felt  and  the  emphasis  on  the  cultural  function  of 
myth  is  most  necessary,  is  in  the  actual  technique  and  methods  of  field 
work.  A  few  first-rate  writers,  notably  those  whose  work  will  be  used  in 
the  subsequent  pages,  i.e.,  Spencer  and  Gillen,  Fewkes,  Gushing,  A.  R. 
Brown,  Elsdon  Best,  as  well  as  the  younger  field  workers  in  the  func- 
tional schools.  Dr.  Raymond  Firth,  Dr.  I.  A.  Richards  and  Dr.  H.  Powder- 
maker,  have  supplied  us  with  adequate  data.  But  in  many,  even  excellent, 
books,  it  would  be  difficult  to  find  the  co-relation  between  folklore  and 
religion  which  would  allow  us  to  test  and  document  the  leading  principles 
of  Robertson  Smith  and  his  followers. 

The  final  test  of  any  theory  in  a  branch  of  learning  which  claims  to  be 
scientific  lies  in  its  empirical  value.  Does  the  view  here  advanced  open 
up  new  avenues  of  empirical  research;  does  it  force  us  to  observe  new 
facts  and  new  relations  between  facts?  Perhaps  I  can  best  bring  home  to 
you  the  significance  of  the  present  theory  of  myth  by  recounting  briefly 
how  I  was  forced  to  adopt  this  point  of  view  in  my  field  work.  When  I 
went  out  to  New  Guinea,  I  was  already  acquainted  with  the  universally 
influential  aetiological  explanation  of  myth.  This  theory  has,  as  we  have 
seen,  the  fatal  implication  that  we  have  to  collect  stories  and  regard 
them  as  self-contained  documents  of  primitive  science.  I  had  to  learn 
the  lesson  of  functional  co-relation  between  myth  and  ritual  in  the  field. 

llllilll  1 1 


I  am  speaking  here  about  primitive  religion  and  primitive  science  and 
about  their  relation  to  one  another.  I  am  speaking  as  an  anthropologist, 
and  anthropology,  as  you  know,  is  the  study  of  man  in  general  and  of 
primitive  man  or  the  savage,  in  particular. 

The  comparative  study  of  religions  and  of  the  beginnings  of  science 
enters,  therefore,  within  the  scope  of  my  speciality  as  one  of  its  most 
important  subject-matters.  And  in  addressing  you  here,  I  feel  it  my  duty 
not  only  to  pronounce  my  personal  views  as  to  the  relation  of  science  to 
religion,  but  also  to  tell  you  what  the  science  which  specialises  in  the 
study  of  this  relation  has  to  give  as  its  considered  opinion.  I  shall  try  to 
lead  you  to  the  very  sources  of  faith  in  the  heart  of  primitive  man.  I 
shall  also  try  to  show  you  the  earliest  attempts  of  the  human  mind  to 
deal  with  reality,  that  is  the  beginnings  of  science. 

Has  primitive  man  a  religion?  Or  is  he  merely  obsessed  by  savage 
superstitions,  surrounded  by  the  darkness  of  heathendom?  This  can  be 
answered  categorically:  religious  beliefs  and  practices,  as  well  as  religious 
morality,  do  exist  among  savages. 

Has,  then,  primitive  man  also  his  science?  Certainly.  He  employs  his 
senses  and  his  brains,  he  observes  shrewdly  and  draws  correct  conclusions. 
He  thus  creates  a  body  of  knowledge  and  a  tradition  of  knowledge — that 
is,  genuine  science. 

The  most  important  lesson  from  this  talk  will  be  that  religion  and 
science  have  existed  from  the  very  beginning,  and  that  they  have  each 
occupied  a  different  place  in  human  activities.  Each  has  its  own  task  and 
its  own  province.  It  will  be  our  business  to  define  the  respective  tasks  of 
religion  and  science. 

What  is,  then,  primitive  religion?  The  reader  of  our  classics,  of  Tylor 

This  was  a  talk  over  the  network  of  the  British  Broadcasting  Corporation, 
and  appeared  in  The  Listener,  October  29,  1930  {Vol.  IV,  No.  94),  pp. 
683-84,  716-17 ;  it  is  reprinted  by  permission. 



and  of  Lord  Avebury,  of  Andrew  Lang,  of  Robertson  Smith,  or  of  Frazer 
will  readily  answer:  Primitive  religion  consists  in  animism,  totemism, 
nature  worship,  ancestor  cult,  and  other  similar  things.  All  this  sounds 
very  well,  and  perhaps  even  very  savage,  but  what  is  it  all  in  reality? 

Animism  is  the  belief  in  the  human  soul;  and  in  its  survival  after 
death.  Hence,  animism  entails  a  cult  of  the  dead.  It  also  declares  that 
Nature  is  animated  by  spiritual  beings.  Put  in  plain  English,  this  savage 
belief  is  nothing  else  but  faith  in  immortality  and  in  a  spiritual  side  to 
the  world.  There  is,  then,  nothing  so  very  strange  or  savage  in  it — in  fact 
a  great  many  of  us  are  animists,  all  who  believe  in  man's  immortal  soul, 
and  in  its  survival  after  death. 

How  does  primitive  animism  originate?  The  older  anthropologists  would 
tell  you  that  the  savage,  pondering  on  dreams,  visions,  and  cataleptic 
states,  and  trying  to  explain  it  all,  arrives  at  a  theory  of  the  soul.  But 
I  should  prefer  to  show  you  how  animism  works  and  what  it  does  for  man. 

Follow  me,  then,  for  a  few  moments  to  a  small  island  in  the  distant 
South  Seas  and  a  few  years  back  in  time.  A  native  friend  of  mine,  a 
Melanesian  islander,  is  on  his  death-bed;  he  knows  it  and  so  do  his  nearest 
relatives  and  friends.  Though  mere  savages,  they  are  as  deeply  moved  as 
any  one  of  us  would  be.  Those  assembled  at  the  death-bed  are  united  by 
strong  emotions.  Fear  and  sorrow  are  unmistakable  in  the  countenance  of 
the  dying  man  and  of  his  friends. 

Do  they  succumb  to  these  emotions?  Do  they  surrender  to  the  horror 
of  death?  No!  Moved  they  certainly  are,  but  what  controls  them  is  an 
active  purpose.  They  are  carrying  out  certain  traditionally  prescribed  acts 
by  which  they  are  able  to  save  the  dying  man;  that  is,  safely  to  conduct 
his  spirit  into  the  next  world  and  to  secure  him  a  happy  existence  there. 

They  have  covered  the  dying  man  with  ornaments  and  flowers;  they 
have  put  fruit  and  prepared  dishes  around  him.  Their  most  precious  pos- 
sessions are  heaped  on  his  body.  All  this — or  rather  its  spiritual  part — he 
will  take  on  his  journey  to  the  other  world.  Messages  are  given  him  to 
transmit  to  those  who  have  gone  before.  Some  of  those  gathered  round  the 
death-bed  seem  to  hear  voices  from  the  other  world.  The  dying  man  is 
immersed  in  an  atmosphere  of  affirmation.  He  is  steeped  in  immortality, 
in  the  communion  between  the  two  worlds.  Those  whom  he  is  about  to 
leave  take  him  by  the  hand,  as  it  were,  and  lead  him  across  the  dividing 
line.  As  death  approaches,  the  relatives  and  friends  throng  round  the 
dying  man,  embrace  him,  rub  his  body  with  valuables  and  sacramental 
gifts  and  utter  ritual  words  of  comfort.  I  was  forcibly  reminded  of  the 
sacrament  of  Extreme  Unction  and  of  the  Viaticum,  as  administered  in 
the  religion  of  my  youth,  in  Roman  Catholicism. 

At  last  death  occurs;  the  main  actor  has  made  his  final  exit.  It  is  the 
most  terrible  and  the  most  sacred  moment  of  all  religious  experience.  The 
helplessness  of  man  and  the  hopelessness  of  the  event  are  ruthlessly  driven 



home  to  all  who  witness.  Does  rehgion  merely  express  this  fear  and 
horror,  this  sorrow  and  despair?  Is  religion  with  its  gods  really  made  up 
of  fear,  as  the  famous  Latin  saying,  and  so  many  learned  theories,  would 
make  us  believe? 

No.  Here  again  religion  orders  man  to  act,  and  to  act  constructively. 
In  an  outburst  of  passionate  grief,  the  survivors  throw  themselves  on  the 
corpse,  fondle  the  dead  remains,  break  out  in  loud  wailing.  They  are 
seized,  as  it  were,  with  a  frenzy  of  ritualised  sorrow.  They  tear  out  their 
hair;  they  gash  their  bodies;  they  rush  round,  destroying  their  material 

But  all  this  is  ordered,  foreseen,  determined  by  tradition.  More  than 
that,  it  is  all  spiritually  significant  and  morally  effective.  It  helps  the 
survivors,  and  it  helps  the  spirit  of  the  dead.  Religion  is  never  negative;  it 
never  allows  man  to  surrender  to  fear,  to  doubt,  and  to  despair.  Religious 
ritual,  and  the  belief  which  sustains  it,  transforms  death  from  the  most 
shattering  experience  into  one  solemn  and  serious,  but  never  hopeless. 

In  the  customs  and  manners  of  burial  we  find  also  the  same  principle: 
the  horror  of  the  corpse  and  the  fear  of  the  dead  overcome,  the  relics 
sacrahsed,  the  terrible  conflict  of  death  solved.  For  there  is  a  curious 
conflict  between  the  desire  to  retain  the  corpse  and  the  desire  to  get  rid 
of  it.  In  mummification,  the  body  is  preserved  as  far  as  is  possible;  m 
cremation,  it  is  destroyed  completely.  In  the  infinite  variety  of  mixed  and 
intermediate  modes,  there  is  a  conflict  and  a  dilemma.  You  love  the 
remains  and  you  express  your  love  ritually  by  clinging  to  the  relics;  you 
also  loathe  them  and  show  this  by  cutting  off  all  that  has  touched  death 
from  contact  with  life.  Such  is  the  ritual  conflict  as  we  find  it  in  Central 
Australia  and  in  South  Europe,  in  Ancient  Egypt  or  Babylon  and  in 

This  ritual  conflict  expresses  something  very  deep  and  real.  Death  must 
inevitably  remain  mysterious  and  create  a  conflict  in  the  human  soul.  It 
is  the  dreaded  end  of  human  life  by  all  earthly  measures.  It  is  the 
transformation  of  a  loved  personality  into  something  gruesome  and 
decaying.  It  changes  a  benevolent  being  into  a  malignant  and  dangerous 
ghost.  Death,  then,  either  tears  all  significance  out  of  human  life,  or  else 
death  has  to  be  transformed  and  to  be  given  an  entirely  new  meaning. 

Upon  this  conflict  and  chaos  breaks  the  redeeming  light  of  religious 
truth.  It  reveals  to  man  that  death  is  not  an  end,  that  the  main  principle 
of  personality  persists;  that  it  is  possible  for  the  survivors  to  keep  in 
touch  with  the  departed  spirit. 

Animism,  the  belief  in  the  immortality  of  the  soul,  is  not  a  mere 
philosophic  doctrine;  it  is  the  result  of  a  deep  emotional  revelation.  In 
animism,  religion  standardises  the  comforting,  the  saving  belief,  and  thus 
it  solves  the  dilemma  of  life  and  death,  of  survival  and  decomposition. 

At  the  various  ceremonies  of  death  and  after,  in  the  ways  of  disposing 



of  the  dead  and  in  the  rites  of  burial,  in  ceremonies  of  commemoration 
and  of  communion  with  the  dead,  above  all,  perhaps,  in  ancestor  worship, 
there  is  embodied  a  live  faith  in  the  immortality  of  the  soul,  the  affirma- 
tion of  the  reality  of  spiritual  existence. 

The  supreme  crisis  of  life — Death — is  thus  sacralised  or  sacramentalised 
throughout  humanity.  Religion  also  puts  its  blessings  on  other  vital  crises 
and  capital  events  of  human  existence.  Birth,  puberty,  marriage,  parent- 
hood, are  also  made  sacred  by  religious  rites  and  ethical  observances. 
Human  existence  is  thus  encased  in  that  wonderful  sacramental  frame- 
work which  is  one  of  the  main  aspects  and  glories  of  religion.  The  main 
events  of  human  life  are  surrounded  with  feelings  of  holiness;  they  are 
made  public,  morally  momentous,  and  spiritually  binding.  In  sacralising 
the  crises  of  life,  primitive  religion  does  not  trespass  on  the  preserves  of 
primitive  science,  any  more  than  Christianity,  for  instance,  in  its  sacra- 
ments of  Baptism,  Confirmation,  Marriage,  or  Extreme  Unction  is  guilty 
of  usurping  the  task  of  the  physicist,  the  chemist,  or  the  historian. 

But  what  about  the  really  savage  sides  of  primitive  heathendom?  Take 
magic,  for  instance,  or  fetishism.  Surely  here  primitive  man  shows  himself 
superstitious,  as  he  also  does  in  worshipping  animals,  plants,  or  totemic 
objects.  And  again,  is  it  possible  to  have  science  side  by  side  with  all  the 
magical  hocus  pocus  and  with  the  heathen  worship  of  stick,  stone,  or 

To  answer  these  questions  let  us  inquire  what  is  primitive  man*s  real 
concern  with  his  environment.  He  has  to  eat,  first  and  foremost,  and  the 
surrounding  nature  is  his  living  larder.  He  depends  on  the  surrounding 
world  for  his  raw  material,  for  fair  winds,  for  the  open  road,  for  sun,  and 
for  rain.  At  times,  nature  turns  on  him  a  friendly  face;  but  then  again 
it  becomes  unmanageable,  dangerous,  threatening  him  with  wild  animals, 
poisonous  plants,  with  storms  and  accidents.  And  primitive  man  is  much 
more  at  the  mercy  of  the  unexpected  than  are  we. 

Now  here  the  most  important  thing  to  realise  is  that  primitive  man 
makes  full  use  of  his  knowledge  wherever  he  can.  You  must  discard  the 
notion  that  the  savage  is  a  child  or  a  fool,  a  mystic  or  a  nincompoop.  I 
have  seen  the  savage  hunter  at  work:  he  knows  his  animals  and  their 
habits;  he  is  familiar  with  the  properties  of  his  weapons,  the  strength  of 
his  spear  and  the  flight  of  his  boomerang.  I  have  trusted  myself  to 
savage  sailors  on  their  frail  craft  over  dangerous  seas  and  under  trying 
conditions.  They  understand  wind  and  weather,  stability  and  tides,  in  a 
truly  reliable,  that  is,  in  a  scientific,  way.  It  is  only  because  he  is  able  to 
observe  correctly  and  to  think  clearly,  that,  with  his  simple  tools  and 
limited  co-operation,  primitive  man  can  master  nature  as  well  and  as 
effectively  as  he  actually  does. 

This,  I  trust,  is  convincing — but  it  is  neither  obvious  nor  generally 



accepted  by  modern  science.  Professor  [Thomas  H.]  Huxley,  in  his  first 
talk,  gave  us  an  admirable  summary  of  the  current  anthropological  views 
on  our  subject:  yet  he  did  not  even  mention  primitive  science.  He  and 
most  contemporary  thinkers  v/ould  follow  Sir  James  Frazer  in  identifying 
early  magic  with  primitive  science.  Other  learned  anthropologists  go 
even  further  and  deny  that  logic,  observation,  or  empirical  thought  are 
possible  to  the  savage.  He  has  been  made,  in  fact,  by  some  recent  theories, 
into  an  incurably  superstitious,  mystical — to  use  the  new-fangled  technical 
term — into  a  "pre-logical"  being.  All  this  is  good  copy  and  pleasant  read- 
ing— it  makes  us  feel  really  civilised  and  superior — but  it  is  not  true  to 
facts.  Science,  primitive  as  much  as  civilised,  is  the  solid  achievement  of 
the  human  mind,  embodied  in  the  tradition  of  rational  knowledge  and 
put  to  practical  purposes.  As  far  as  primitive  man  has  really  obtained 
the  mastery  of  natural  forces,  and  of  the  forces  in  his  own  nature,  he 
relies  on  science  and  on  science  alone. 

True,  science  advances,  and  modern  science  has  grown  out  of  all 
recognition  from  its  humble  origins.  Science  is  conscious  of  its  power  and 
of  its  steady  advances;  proud  of  its  ruthless  conquests  of  fields  hitherto 
left  to  mysticism  and  speculation,  or  to  religious  dogmatism.  At  times  it 
becomes,  therefore,  arrogant  and  aggressive.  Even  more  so  because  often  it 
has  had  to  be  on  the  defensive.  Religion  and  magic  do  not  always  give 
science  its  due,  nor  make  way  graciously  and  wisely.  We  had  our  funda- 
mentalists from  the  time  when  Galileo  was  tortured,  to  the  somewhat 
less  dramatic  but  more  dramatised  performances  of  the  late  W.  J.  Bryan. 
Fundamentahsm  naturally  exists  in  primitive  savagery  also,  for  their 
traditional  routine,  magically  or  religiously  sanctioned,  opposes  all  innova- 
tion and  change.  In  savagery,  fundamentalism  is,  on  the  whole,  a  beneficent 
force,  though  never  a  very  amiable  one. 

The  savage,  I  repeat,  has  got  a  firm  grip  on  his  science,  even  as  his 
science  keeps  him  well  under  its  control.  But  his  science  fails  him  at 
times.  Does  our  science,  of  which  we  are  so  proud  and  confident,  never 
leave  us  in  the  lurch?  It  has  not  yet  domesticated  luck,  chance,  and 
accident.  It  cannot  prevent  earthquakes  and  famine,  war,  crime,  or 
disease.  So  that  even  we,  you  and  I,  when  too  much  at  the  mercy  of 
hazard,  become  superstitious  and  repair  to  magic.  You  and  I  have  our 
mascots  and  talismans,  our  signs  and  omens,  our  little  ritual  of  salt  and 
of  mirrors,  of  new  moons  and  of  ladders.  We  smile  at  them  but  we 
practise  them  a  great  deal  more  seriously  than  our  smiles  might  warrant. 
Nor  can  they  be  dismissed  as  insignificant  survivals  from  primeval  times. 
For  they  show  as  rank  a  growth  on  the  most  recent  soil  of  human  nature 
as  on  the  most  primitive. 

We  even  see  big  systems  of  modern  magic,  of  practical  utiHtarian 
belief,  sprouting  under  our  very  eyes.  Take  Christian  Science  or  the 
recently  re-established  astrology,  faith-healing  or  theosophy,  clairvoyance 



or  the  revelation  of  medium  and  table-rapping  which  calls  itself  spiritual- 
ism. One  and  all  are  new,  strong,  vital  forms  of  modern  civilised  belief. 
They  all  contain  a  genuine  response  to  a  real  need.  But  in  my  opinion 
they  resemble  primitive  magic  rather  than  religion,  both  in  what  they  are 
and  in  what  they  do.  With  all  that  I  regard  them  as  highly  respectable, 
for  they  seem  to  be  indispensable. 

And  so  within  the  context  of  primitive  culture  is  also  primitive  magic, 
in  which  the  savage  tries  to  harness  his  luck  and  to  bribe  his  chance,  by 
spell,  ritual,  and  taboo.  Magic  flourishes  wherever  man  cannot  control 
hazard  by  means  of  science.  It  flourishes  in  hunting  and  fishing,  in  times 
of  war  and  at  seasons  of  love,  in  the  control  of  wind,  rain,  and  sun,  in 
regulating  all  dangerous  enterprises,  above  all  in  disease  and  in  the  shadow 
of  death. 

We  must  guard  against  the  mistake  of  assuming  that  magic  represents 
primitive  science.  Magic  never  undertakes  to  do  that  which  primitive  man 
can  easily  achieve  by  knowledge,  manual  skill,  and  bodily  effort.  The 
savage  never  digs  the  soil  by  magic,  nor  does  he  throw  his  spears  by 
ritual  or  sail  his  canoes  by  spell. 

In  Melanesia  I  studied  an  extensive  and  complicated  system  of  garden 
magic.  The  soil  was  first  blessed  for  fertility  in  general;  then  the  plots 
were  cleared  by  perfectly  rational  and  practical  procedures.  A  second 
magical  ceremony  followed  to  fumigate  the  cleared  ground  and  thus 
prevent  blights,  pests,  and  insects.  Then,  again,  came  planting,  done  skil- 
fully, practically,  and  scientifically.  But  when  the  plants  sprouted  and 
there  was  nothing  better  to  do  but  to  hope  for  good  luck,  magic  again 
was  enacted  in  ceremony  after  ceremony,  designed  to  make  the  crops 
strong  and  good.  And  so,  throughout  the  whole  series,  the  rites  alternated 
with  the  activities,  each  aspect,  the  rational  and  the  magical,  kept  abso- 
lutely distinct  from  the  other.  The  same  is  true  of  most  Melanesian 
magic  and  of  magic  all  the  world  over. 

You  can  see,  then,  the  relation  of  primitive  magic  to  primitive  science: 
they  assist  each  other  and  co-operate,  but  never  trespass  on  each  other's 
preserves.  You  can  see,  also,  the  utility  and  the  function  of  magic. 
Sociologically,  it  is  an  organising  force;  it  brings  order,  rhythm,  and 
control  into  the  practical  activities.  The  magician  becomes  the  natural 
leader  and  often  grows  into  the  chief  or  the  king.  Individually,  it  gives 
man  confidence  and  allows  him  to  act  firmly  in  the  teeth  of  adversity 
and  heavy  odds. 

Magic,  then,  has  its  own  cultural  task  to  perform.  It  has  a  value  for 
primitive  man  and  for  primitive  culture,  and  in  all  this  its  province  and 
its  function  are  different  from  those  of  primitive  science. 

It  also  differs  from  religion.  For,  apart  from  magic  and  from  science, 
man  also  turns  to  nature  in  a  religious  spirit.  Abundance  of  food  and 
material  welfare  in  general  are,  to  primitive  man,  the  primary  needs  of 



normal  life.  They  are  also  the  condition  of  any  spiritual  advance.  But 
abundance  of  food  and  of  goods  is  given  to  man  independently  of  his 
efforts,  often  independently  of  his  magic.  Primitive  man,  even  as  civilised, 
feels  an  autonomous  purpose  in  nature  which  at  times  rewards,  at  times 
punishes,  and  invariably  follows  its  own  mysterious  way.  Man  naturally 
turns  towards  this  purpose  or  providence;  he  personifies  it  and  tries  to 
propitiate  it.  This  is  the  foundation  of  nature  worship,  which  takes 
various  forms,  of  which  the  most  primitive,  perhaps,  is  totemism.  But  all 
nature  worship  implies  the  deification  of  natural  forces,  the  admission  of 
a  purpose,  a  providence,  a  personal  guidance  in  the  universe. 

Our  short,  but,  I  trust,  convincing  glimpses  into  the  drama  of  primitive 
life  demonstrate  one  thing;  the  two  main  sources  of  religious  inspiration 
are  the  desire  for  immortality  and  a  craving  for  the  communion  with 
God.  In  affirming  this  I  find  myself  in  opposition  to  most  current  theories. 
Professor  Huxley,  who  gave  such  a  masterly  summary  of  current  views, 
specifically  told  us  that  God  and  immortality  play  no  part  in  primitive 
religion.  But  I  find  that  these  are  the  twin  needs  which  we  all  feel, 
which  man  has  felt  from  the  beginning,  whenever  he  has  been  unable  to 
face  his  destiny.  In  all  this,  religious  belief  is  not  a  mere  emotional 
effervescence,  still  less  an  intellectual  interpretation.  Religion  promises 
immortality  for  man,  and  it  reveals  to  him  his  God  or  his  gods.  It  is 
this  active  or  creative  side  of  religion  which  seems  to  me  to  be  the  most 
important,  and  on  which  I  have  placed  the  greatest  emphasis.  Thus,  the 
comparative  science  of  religion  compels  us  to  recognise  religion  as  the 
master-force  of  human  culture.  Religion  makes  man  do  the  biggest  things 
he  is  capable  of,  and  it  does  for  man  what  nothing  else  can  do;  it  gives 
him  peace  and  happiness,  harmony  and  a  sense  of  purpose;  and  it  gives 
all  this  in  an  absolute  form. 

You  can  see  that,  throughout  all  this,  I  have  spoken  of  religion  in 
general,  bringing  the  primitive  and  the  civilised  together,  stressing  the 
similarity  between  them.  But  I  do  not  want  you  to  forget  all  that  is 
crude,  cruel,  and  degraded  in  the  rehgions  of  the  savage,  the  ordeals 
and  obscenities  at  initiation,  the  horrible  rites  of  death,  disgusting  and 
murderous,  the  licence  and  degradation  of  the  marriage  ceremonial — all 
this  and  a  great  deal  more  could  be  adduced  to  make  a  heavy  indictment 
of  primitive  heathendom.  And  yet,  the  cruelties  and  ordeals  often 
function  as  tests  of  endurance.  They  assist  the  moral  training  in  self- 
control  which  frequently  goes  with  them.  Licence  at  a  wedding  is  often 
the  final  fling  of  pre-nuptial  libertinage,  a  farewell  to  what  is  henceforth 
forbidden.  The  ritual  at  death  serves  to  emphasise  its  solemnity  and  the 
solidarity  of  the  dead  with  those  who  are  killed  to  accompany  them. 

Black  magic,  again,  which  consists  in  the  tampering  with  the  health 
and  life,  as  well  as  with  the  wealth  and  happiness  of  others,  seems  at  first 



sight  to  be  wholly  evil;  but  it  is  often  used  for  good,  and  it  has  its  good 
and  comforting  sides.  It  makes  disease  and  decay  appear  man-made  and 
artificial,  hence  remediable.  In  fact,  all  savage  sorcerers  are  able  to  cure 
as  well  as  to  kill.  Black  magic,  also,  though  often  used  with  malice  for 
oppression  or  blackmail,  is  more  frequently  employed  as  an  instrument  of 
rough  justice.  It  is  used  to  redress  wrongs  and  to  buttress  established 
power  and  privilege.  It  is  a  conservative  force,  and,  as  such,  on  the  whole 
valuable  in  a  primitive  community.  Black  magic  is  like  a  sharp  sword,  two- 
edged,  ready  for  justice  and  for  crime,  but,  under  primitive  conditions, 
very  useful.  With  all  this,  we  do  not  want  to  indulge  too  freely  in  the 
apologetics  of  darkest  primeval  heathendom.  Primitive  religion  has  its 
shadows;  so  have  our  religions.  The  real  point,  however,  which  I  want  to 
make  is  that  religion,  even  at  its  worst,  is  never  completely  useless  or 
wholly  evil.  Even  in  its  lowest  forms  it  has  a  divine  spark,  and  when  I 
speak  of  *'divine"  I  express  simply  the  point  of  view  of  the  believer  and 
not  my  own.  As  an  anthropologist  I  can  speak  of  the  "divine"  only  as  it 
manifests  itself  to  man  and  in  man. 

The  comparative  science  of  religions  has  no  warrant  to  declare  the 
absolute,  transcendental  truth  of  any  one  religion.  Since  religious  revela- 
tion is  an  experience  which,  as  a  matter  of  principle,  lies  beyond  the 
domain  of  science,  either  discipline  is  sovereign  and  independent,  and 
neither  can  testify  for  or  against  the  other.  Speaking  as  an  anthropologist, 
I  have,  therefore,  to  associate  myself  with  the  affirmation  repeated  by  all 
my  collaborators  in  this  series — that  religion  and  science  need  not  be  in 
open  conflict,  since  their  respective  aims  and  provinces  are  distinct  and 

You  might  like,  however,  to  know  my  personal  opinion  as  to  the  relation 
of  science  and  religion.  Let  me,  then,  speak,  not  as  a  specialist,  but  simply 
as  a  thinking  and  feeling  man. 

Personally,  I  am  an  agnostic.  I  am  not  able,  that  is,  to  deny  the  exist- 
ence of  God:  nor  would  I  be  inclined  to  do  so,  still  less  to  maintain  that 
such  a  belief  is  not  necessary.  I  also  fervently  hope  that  there  is  a  survival 
after  death,  and  I  deeply  desire  to  obtain  some  certainty  on  this  matter. 
But  with  all  that  I  am  unable  to  accept  any  positive  religion — Christian 
or  otherwise.  I  cannot  positively  believe  in  Providence  in  any  sense  of 
the  word,  and  I  have  no  conviction  of  personal  immortality. 

Thus,  as  you  see,  I  profoundly  differ  from  the  confident  rationalist  or 
disbeliever  of  the  past  generation  or  two.  We  all  know  the  story  of  La 
Place  and  the  discussion  which  he  had  with  Napoleon  the  First  about 
his  system  of  Celestial  Mechanics.  The  Emperor  asked  him:  "What  place 
have  you  given  to  God  in  your  system?"  "Sire,"  was  the  answer,  "this  is 
an  hypothesis  of  which  I  have  never  felt  the  need."  It  is  the  proud 
answer  of  a  confident  atheist,  but  it  does  not  ring  true  to  the  humble 
agnostic.  On  the  contrary,  I  should  say  that  God  is  a  reality  and  not  a 



hypothesis,  and  a  reaUty  of  which  I  am  in  the  greatest  need,  though  this 
need  I  cannot  satisfy  or  fulfil.  The  typical  rationalist  says:  "I  don't  know 
and  I  don't  care."  The  tragic  agnostic  would  rejoin:  "I  cannot  know,  but 
I  feel  a  deep  and  passionate  need  of  faith,  of  evidence,  and  of  revelation." 
Personally,  to  me,  and  to  those  many  who  are  like  me,  nothing  really 
matters  except  the  answer  to  the  burning  questions:  "Am  I  going  to  live 
or  shall  I  vanish  like  a  bubble?"  "What  is  the  aim,  and  the  sense,  and  the 
issue  of  all  this  strife  and  suffering?"  The  doubt  of  these  two  questions 
lives  in  us  and  affects  all  our  thoughts  and  feelings.  Modern  agnosticism 
is  a  tragic  and  shattering  frame  of  mind.  To  dismiss  agnosticism  as  an 
easy  and  shallow  escape  from  the  moral  obligations  and  discipline  of 
religion — this  is  an  unworthy  and  superficial  way  of  dealing  with  it. 

Is  science  responsible  for  my  agnosticism  and  for  that  of  others  who 
think  like  me?  I  believe  it  is,  and  therefore  I  do  not  love  science,  though 
I  have  to  remain  its  loyal  servant.  Science  deals  with  truth  and  with 
evidence,  and  it  develops  a  critical  sense  and  a  passion  for  full  experience 
which  spread  beyond  its  own  limited  domain.  Now,  religious  truth  is 
vouched  for  by  two  sources  of  experience.  We  have  in  the  first  place  the 
original  revelation,  handed  on  in  religious  teaching.  This  is  the  founda- 
tion of  the  great  historical  religions,  notably  of  Christianity.  And  then 
there  are  the  miracles  and  disclosures  of  the  present  day  on  which  most  of 
the  new-fangled  creeds  are  founded.  Science  has  spoilt  us  for  the  un- 
questioning acceptance  of  truth  at  second-hand — the  truth  of  tradition 
or  of  the  Gospels.  If  there  ever  existed  a  real  experience,  if  the  truth  of 
divine  existence  is  there  to  be  revealed,  I  rebel  against  the  assumption 
that  it  has  been  shown  in  some  dim  past  to  my  mythological  forebears, 
and  that  it  is  not  vouchsafed  to  me  to-day  and  in  a  manner  so  convincing 
that  there  can  be  no  doubt  or  cavil.  The  religious  person  would  say,  of 
course,  that  he  does  receive  the  revelation  of  divine  truth.  I  can  only  reply 
that  just  here  there  seems  to  be  an  unbridgeable  gulf  between  faith  and 

The  comparative  science  of  religions  shows,  moreover,  that  the  same 
eternal  cravings  of  the  human  soul  have  been  satisfied  by  a  variety  of 
obvious  fictions,  which  have  worked  as  well  as  the  nobler  religious  truths 
of  our  own  culture.  Thus,  the  realities  of  reHgious  belief,  however  highly 
we  may  rate  their  value,  appear  almost  as  instruments  created  for  a 
special  need.  The  poison  of  pragmatism — truth  measured  by  utiHty — is 
nowadays  invading  the  comparative  study  of  religions  as  well  as  all  philos- 
ophy and  science,  and  pragmatism  is  the  death  of  religion  as  well  as  of 

When  I  come,  on  the  other  hand,  to  the  modern  forms  of  revelation, 
to  contemporary  miracles,  to  faith-healing,  to  spiritualistic  mediums,  to 
palmistry,  to  the  brass  tablets  of  a  Joseph  Smith  or  the  visions  of  a 
Mrs.  [Mary  Baker]  Eddy,  all  my  scientific  morals  of  method  and  evidence 



are  roused  to  protest.  The  evidential  value  of  all  this  machine-made 
revelation,  of  this  surreptitious  communion  with  the  beyond,  I  find  worth- 
less, and  as  an  aesthetic  or  emotional  experience,  distinctly  unattractive. 
Nor  can  I  accept  the  inner  revelation  of  Divinity  as  a  system  of  ideals — 
such  as  Professor  Haldane  developed  before  us  in  a  previous  talk.  His 
God  is  too  abstract,  too  impersonal,  to  satisfy  my  craving  for  a  real  com- 
munion with  the  personal  Guide  of  the  Universe.  A  belief  of  that  type 
contains  no  guarantee  of  personal  survival  after  death.  And  without  a 
personal  God  and  the  belief  in  immortality,  I  cannot  conceive  of  a 
living  religion.  Moreover,  is  it  true  that  the  ideals  of  truth,  and  beauty, 
and  goodness  really  unite  all  men  or  most  men?  Is  the  modern  world,  with 
its  devastating  wars,  its  racial,  national,  and  class  hatreds,  with  its  mean 
rapacities  and  wholesale  exploitations — is  our  world  really  governed  by 
this  inner  and  universal  revelation  of  truth  and  harmony  to  all  men 
alike?  I  see  no  trace  of  such  control.  I  feel  far  nearer  to  the  established, 
traditional  creeds,  which  appeal  to  me  aesthetically  and  morally — and  for 
them  I  have  a  deep  reverence. 

Is  there  any  hope  of  bridging  this  deepest  gulf,  that  between  tragic 
agnosticism  and  belief?  I  do  not  know.  Is  there  any  remedy?  I  cannot 
answer  this  either.  What  can  help  us,  perhaps,  is  more  and  more  honesty, 
more  outspokenness  and  more  sincerity. 

It  is  in  this  spirit  that  I  have  described  to  you  my  personal  position, 
because  I  felt  it  my  duty  to  be  sincere  and  outspoken.  Those  of  you  who 
are  fortunate  enough  to  believe,  or  equally  fortunate  positively  to  dis- 
believe, will  not  have  detected  any  missionary  accents  in  my  confession 
of  faith.  All  my  scientific  evidence  tends  to  show  that  there  are  no 
reasons  and  no  room  for  conflict  between  science  and  religion,  but,  in  my 
personal  experience  I  have  found  that  science  is  dangerous,  even,  perhaps, 
when  it  does  not  destroy  faith  completely.  Because,  through  it  all  and 
above  all,  though  I  am  unable  to  worship  any  divinity,  I  have  almost 
come  to  worship,  certainly  to  revere  religion. 

In  all  its  manifestations — animism  and  totemism,  nature  cults  and 
ancestor  worship,  prayers  to  Providence  and  administrations  of  sacra- 
ments— religion,  civilised  or  primitive,  gives  man  what  neither  science 
nor  magic  can  give. 

Religion  gives  man  hope  of  immortality  and  the  ritual  means  of  achiev- 
ing it;  it  reveals  the  existence  of  God  or  Providence  and  tells  how  com- 
munion can  be  established:  it  affirms  the  meaning  of  the  world  and  the 
purpose  of  life;  and,  through  its  sacraments,  it  allows  men  to  obtain  a 
greater  fullness  of  life.  Religion  gives  man  the  mastery  of  his  fate,  even 
as  science  gives  him  the  control  of  natural  forces,  and  magic  the  grip  of 
chance,  luck  and  accident. 




There  are  certain  questions  of  principle  in  every  branch  of  science  which 
cannot  be  passed  over  in  any  comprehensive  and  thorough  treatment  of 
the  subject,  and  upon  the  answer  of  which  the  further  course  of  inquiry 
essentially  depends. 

Such  questions  are,  as  a  rule,  the  most  difficult  to  settle,  because  only 
an  overwhelming  amount  of  evidence  gathered  with  the  very  problem 
in  view  allows  of  an  unequivocal  answer.  In  anthropology  the  mutual 
co-operation  of  the  theorist  and  of  the  field-worker  is  essential  in  all  such 

A  question  of  this  type  presents  itself  at  the  outset  in  anthropological 
investigations  of  religion.  Is  there  a  sharp  and  deep  cleavage  between 
religious  and  profane  matters  among  primitive  peoples?  Or,  in  other  words: 
Is  there  a  pronounced  dualism  in  the  social  and  mental  life  of  the  savage, 
or,  on  the  contrary,  do  the  religious  and  non-religious  ideas  and  activities 
pass  and  shade  into  each  other  in  a  continuous  manner? 

This  question  is  of  utmost  importance  for  the  general  theory  of  religion. 
Professor  Durkheim  postulates  the  existence  of  a  perfectly  sharp  and 
deep  cleavage  between  the  two  domains  of  the  sacre  and  profane,  and 
his  entire  theoretical  construction  stands  and  falls  with  this  assumption.^ 
Again,  Dr.  [Ronald  R.]  Marett  is  of  opinion  that,  generally  speaking, 
"the  savage  is  very  far  from  having  any  fairly  definite  system  of  ideas  of 
a  magico-religious  kind,  with  a  somewhat  specialised  department  of  con- 
duct corresponding  thereto."  ^ 

This  view,  although  expressed  in  a  somewhat  different  connection,  un- 
doubtedly implies  the  negation  of  Durkheim's  dogmatic  standpoint.  Again, 
Mr.  Crawley  thinks  that  for  the  savage  everything  has  got  a  religious 
dimension,^  a  view  which  also  excludes  the  existence  of  any  irreducible 
duahsm  of  magico-religious  on  the  one  hand  and  secular  on  the  other. 

These  examples  show  that  the  above  question,  fundamental  as  it  is,  is 
still  unsettled  and  controversial.  What  answer  does  it  receive  from  the 
ethnographic  evidence?  The  great  Australian  ethnographers.  Spencer  and 
Gillen,  whose  researches  have  contributed  to  the  advancement  of  our 
knowledge  of  primitive  religion  more  than  any  other  investigations, 
answer  the  question  in  the  affirmative.  The  life  of  an  aborigine  of  Central 

This  comment  appeared  in  the  Annual  Report  of  the  British  Association  for  the 
Advancement  of  Science,  1914,  pp.  534-3  5,  and  is  reprinted  by  permission. 
^  Les  formes  eUmentaires  de  la  vie  religieuse,  Paris,  1912. 

^  Notes  and  Queries  on  Anthropology,  4th  ed.,  London,  1912.  Article  on  religion. 
^Article  on  religion  in  Sociological  Papers,  iii,  London,  1910. 



Australia  is  sharply  divided  into  two  periods:  the  one  comprising  his 
everyday  life,  and  the  other  his  magico-religious  activities.^  It  is  evident 
throughout  Messrs.  Spencer  and  Gillen's  two  volumes  that  the  properly 
religious  and  magical  practices  and  beliefs  are  strictly  esoteric;  that  they 
are  fenced  off  from  everyday  life  by  a  wall  of  taboos,  rules,  and  ob- 
servances. Yet  reading  another  standard  work  of  modern  anthropology, 
Dr.  and  Mrs.  Seligman's  monograph  on  the  Veddas,  one  gets  the  impres- 
sion that  among  these  natives  there  does  not  exist  anything  like  a  radical 
bipartition  of  things  and  ideas  into  religious  and  profane. 

Again,  the  views  held  by  another  recent  investigator,  Dr.  Thurnwald, 
with  regard  to  the  magic  of  the  natives  of  the  Bismarck  Archipelago  and 
of  the  Solomon  Islands,  imply  beyond  doubt  the  absence  of  a  clear-cut 
division  between  magico-religious  and  secular  ideas,^  the  two  classes  merg- 
ing into  and  blending  with  each  other. 

One  conclusion  seems  to  be  inevitable:  namely,  that  pending  new 
evidence  it  would  be  rash  to  dogmatise  on  the  subject  under  consideration. 
I  venture  to  say  more.  The  above-mentioned  statements  (which  could 
easily  be  multiplied)  point  not  merely  to  different  personal  equations, 
which,  however,  would  be  possible  in  such  an  enormously  complex  and 
general  problem,  but  they  point  to  real  differences  in  the  matter  discussed. 
The  consolidation  of  the  religious  life  can  be  different  amongst  various 
peoples,  depending  as  it  does  upon  various  social  conditions.  Thus  religion 
seems  to  be  best  developed  and  possessing  the  highest  relative  social  im- 
portance among  the  Central  Australians,  to  a  smaller  degree  among  the 
Papuans  studied  by  Thurnwald,  still  less  among  the  Veddas.  Where  it  is 
strongest  the  bipartition  postulated  by  Durkheim  seems  to  be  most  promi- 
nent. Wherever  it  is  less  pronounced  the  two  domains  shade  into  each 
other  and  begin  to  fuse. 

Thus  probably  the  division  into  religious  and  profane  is  not  an  essential 
and  fundamental  feature  of  religion,  suitable  to  be  considered  as  its  very 
distinctive  characteristic.  It  is  an  accidental  feature,  dependent  chiefly 
upon  the  social  part  played  by  religion  and  connected  possibly  with  some 
other  factors,  to  determine  the  influence  of  which  it  is,  however,  necessary 
to  have  more  ample  evidence,  gathered  with  the  problem  in  view. 

''Northern  Tribes  of  Central  Australia,  p.  33. 

^  "Ethno-psychologische  Studien  an  Siidseevolkern,"  in  Beihefte  zur  Zeitschrijt  fiir 
angew.  Psychologie,  Leipzig,  1913.  Paragraph  on  magic. 

llililll  12 




Sir  James  Frazer's  Golden  Bough  is  in  many  respects  the  greatest  achieve- 
ment of  anthropology — a  science  the  short  Hfe-history  of  which  allows 
still  of  a  rapid  survey  and  a  correct  apportionment  of  values.  The  book, 
like  no  other  work,  expresses  the  spirit  of  modern  humanism — the  union 
of  classical  scholarship  with  folk-lore  and  anthropology.  The  marble  forms 
of  antique  legend  and  myth  are  made  to  lend  their  beauty  to  the  crude 
and  queer  customs  of  the  savage  and  the  uncouth  usages  of  the  peasant, 
while  the  Gods  and  Heroes  of  Olympus  receive  in  exchange  the  vitalising 
breath  of  life  and  reality  from  their  humbler  yet  more  animate  counter- 

It  is  difficult  to  review  a  new  version  of  the  work  in  the  ordinary  man- 
ner. It  would  be  as  presumptuous  to  assess  the  value  of  a  universally 
acknowledged  masterpiece  of  literary  art  and  a  classic  of  scholarship  as  it 
would  be  unnecessary  to  indicate  the  scope  of  a  work  known  to  every 
cultured  man,  a  work  which  has  exercised  paramount  influence  over 
several  branches  of  learning  and  has  created  new  lines  of  scientific  re- 
search. But  though  it  is  superfluous  to  praise  the  book  or  to  explain  it,  the 
appearance  of  the  abridged  edition  seems  an  opportune  occasion  for  us 
anthropologists  to  undertake  a  little  examination  of  conscience  with  regard 
to  this  classic.  We  all  admit  that  we  owe  an  immense  debt  to  the  author 
of  the  Golden  Bough  and  to  his  work,  but  have  we  acquitted  ourselves 
well  of  an  obligation,  have  we  given  him  his  due  in  return?  By  this  I 
mean,  have  we  taken  all  that  has  been  offered  to  us  and  made  the  most  of 

This  was  a  review  of  The  Golden  Bough:  A  Study  in  Magic  and  Religion  by 
Sir  James  George  Frazer;  if  appeared  in  Nature,  May  19,  1923  (Vol.  Ill),  pp. 
65  8-62,  and  is  reprinted  by  permission. 



it?  Have  we  followed  his  lead  to  the  end  of  the  road,  have  we  searched 
everywhere  where  the  light  of  the  Golden  Botigh  has  shone? 

For  this  is  the  difference  between  the  economic  and  the  spiritual  order 
of  things:  that  in  the  former  it  is  good  to  receive  material  benefits,  and, 
speaking  without  cant,  painful  to  give  them;  while  in  matters  of  the  mind 
it  is  a  joy  to  bestow  but  a  burden  to  take,  since  this  has  to  be  done  in  an 
unselfish  submission  of  the  spirit,  and  requires  obedience,  discipline,  and 

Surveying  the  immense  influence  exercised  by  this  and  Frazer's  other 
works  on  contemporary  humanistic  literature,  it  might  appear  as  if  this 
quarry  of  inspiration  and  fact,  however  rich,  must  have  by  now  become 
nearly  exhausted.  Literally  half  the  subjects  of  modern  anthropological 
argument  and  controversy  have  been  submitted  by  Frazer  for  discussion: 
totemism,  problems  of  the  taboo,  origins  of  kinship  and  chieftainship, 
primitive  conceptions  of  the  soul  and  spiritual  life — the  list  could  be 
drawn  out  indefinitely  by  going  into  more  detail.  In  Great  Britain,  in 
France,  in  Germany  and  the  United  States,  whole  schools  of  anthropologi- 
cal science  have  flourished  or  grown  rankly,  respectively,  on  the  ground 
broken  and  first  cultivated  by  Frazer.  It  is  enough  to  mention  the 
names  of  Crawley,  Marett,  Durkheim,  Hubert  and  Mauss,  Van  Gennep, 
[Wilhelm]  Wundt,  Freud  and  his  school  (in  their  anthropological 
studies),  who  in  their  work,  some  of  it  of  the  very  first  rank,  are  more 
or  less  dependent  on  Frazer  and  his  initiative.  Yet  it  would  be  easy  to 
show  that  even  this  immense  and  most  valuable  Frazerian  literature  has 
left  enormous  areas  within  the  enclosure  of  the  Golden  Bough  ready  for 
further  cultivation. 

It  is  not  from  the  side  of  theory,  however,  that  I  wish  to  approach  this 
great  work,  but,  as  a  field  worker,  from  the  point  of  view  of  actual  re- 
search among  savage  races.  The  test  of  a  scientific  achievement  lies  in  its 
power  of  anticipation  and  of  prophecy:  a  sound  theory  must  be  the  fore- 
runner of  empirical  discoveries,  it  must  allow  us  to  foreshadow  new  facts 
not  yet  ascertained  by  observation.  It  is  not  when  a  man  talks  to  us  about 
things  we  have  seen  already,  but  when,  from  his  study,  he  can  foretell 
unsuspected  events,  can  direct  us  towards  unforeseen  treasures  of  fact, 
and  guide  our  researches  in  unexplored  countries,  it  is  only  then  that  the 
value  of  his  theories  is  put  beyond  doubt  or  cavil.  This  is  well  known  in 
natural  science,  where  the  value  of  a  theory  is  always  gauged  by  its  lead  in 
the  laboratory  or  in  the  field.  In  humanistic  and  historical  science  the 
honour  of  a  prophetic  voice  has  been  reserved  to  its  youngest  oflf-shoot, 
anthropology.  For  though  "history  never  repeats  itself"  when  we  watch  it 
over  a  relatively  brief  span,  interested  in  its  detailed  course  of  accidental 
happenings,  yet  the  evolution  of  culture,  taken  as  a  whole,  is  submitted  to 
definite  rules  and  regularities,  and  human  nature,  broadly  viewed,  as  it 



breaks  through  the  media  of  various  civilisations  and  stages  of  develop- 
ment, remains  the  same,  and,  being  subject  to  laws,  is  thus  capable  of 

The  Golden  Bough  has  had  a  triumphant  career  in  this  respect.  One 
after  the  other  the  main  supports  of  the  lofty  edifice,  which  at  first  might 
have  appeared  entirely  carved  out  of  the  author's  creative  imagination, 
were  traced  to  the  solid  bed-rock  of  fact  by  subsequent  discoveries  among 
the  backward  races.  The  most  fantastic  feature  in  the  ritual  of  Aricia, 
the  succession  by  murder,  led  the  author  to  the  theory  of  the  killing  of 
divine  kings,  carried  out  by  certain  savages,  in  order  to  prevent  their 
end  by  disease  or  senile  decay.  This  theory,  when  first  emitted,  had  only 
partial  and  meagre  evidence  in  recorded  fact.  But  the  brilliant  discoveries 
of  Dr.  and  Mrs.  Seligman  about  the  divine  kings  of  the  Shilluk,  about  their 
violent  end,  regularly  inflicted  after  a  term  of  reigning,  and  about  the 
spiritual  succession  by  the  transmission  of  the  soul,  confirmed  Sir  James 
Frazer's  theoretical  assumptions  in  every  detail.  Following  this,  field-work 
has  brought,  and  is  still  bringing,  fresh  evidence,  enough  to  prove  that 
Frazer's  researches  have  revealed  an  institution  of  the  greatest  importance 
among  backward  races. 

Sir  James  Frazer  was  the  first  to  express  the  view  that  before  humanity 
had  begun  to  worship  spiritual  beings  there  was  a  stage  of  belief  and  ritual, 
essentially  magical,  in  which  man  assumed  a  fixed  order  of  Nature,  sub- 
ject to  the  power  of  specific  incantations  and  rites.  Modern  research  among 
savages,  in  the  measure  as  it  penetrates  more  deeply  into  the  comprehension 
of  native  ideas,  tends  to  establish  the  correctness,  not  only  of  the  general 
assumption  of  the  magical  stage  in  evolution,  but  also  of  Sir  James's 
detailed  theories  of  the  psychology  of  magic.  The  nature  of  primitive  king- 
ship and  power;  the  paramount  role  played  by  the  taboo  and  its  psy- 
chology; the  importance  of  harvest  ritual  and  ceremonies  among  savages — 
in  all  this  it  would  be  easy  to  show  what  copious  results  recent  field-work 
has  produced  by  following  the  suggestions  and  inspirations  of  the  Golden 

An  irrefutable  though  somewhat  external  proof  of  this  is  to  be  found  in 
the  ever-increasing  bulk  of  the  book  as  it  passes  through  successive  editions, 
a  score  of  new  instances  appearing  to  testify  to  the  truth  of  some  of 
Frazer's  fundamental  propositions,  where  previous  evidence  was  able  only 
to  supply  a  few. 

To  mention  only  the  other  masterpiece  of  Sir  James  Frazer,  Totemism 
and  Exogamy ,  we  find  again,  after  some  thirty  years,  a  small  volume  ex- 
panded into  four  large  ones  by  the  rich  harvest  of  facts  which  followed 
the  theoretical  forecasts  of  the  author.  The  ignorance  of  paternity,  at  first 
observed  by  Spencer  and  Gillen  among  one  tribe  only,  was  at  once  recog- 
nised by  Frazer  as  of  extreme  importance  for  the  early  forms  of  totemic 
behef  and  organisation  and  kinship.  Here  again  this  forecast  was  confirmed, 



not  only  by  further  researches  of  Sir  Baldwin  Spencer  in  the  north  of 
Australia,  but  also  by  the  discoveries  of  Dr.  Rivers  in  the  New  Hebrides, 
and  by  the  findings  of  the  present  reviewer  among  a  number  of  Papuo- 
Melanesian  tribes  of  Eastern  New  Guinea.  There  this  ignorance  is  of  ex- 
treme importance  in  shaping  the  matrilineal  ideas  and  institutions  of  the 
natives,  and  is  also  closely  connected  with  their  totemism. 

There  seems  to  be  some  need  of  emphasising  this  empirical  fecundity  of 
the  book — that  is,  its  essentially  scientific  value.  The  great  admiration 
which  this  work  has  inspired  as  a  literary  masterpiece  and  as  a  classic 
of  comparative  history,  folk-lore,  and  archaeology  seems  to  have  over- 
shadowed the  merits  of  the  book  as  an  organiser  and  director  of  field-work. 
These  merits  are  due,  not  only  to  the  learning  and  to  the  constructive  craft 
of  Sir  James,  but  also  mainly  to  his  genius  in  understanding  the  funda- 
mentals of  human  nature,  especially  of  the  nature  of  primitive  man,  such 
as  we  see  him  represented  by  the  peasant  and  the  savage.  In  no  other  work 
can  we  find  the  same  intimate  understanding  of  savage  modes  of  thought 
and  behaviour,  the  same  unfailing  capacity  to  interpret  the  savage's 
customs,  ideas,  and  traditions  from  his  own  point  of  view,  the  same 
prophetic  intuition  of  what  is  really  important  with  the  native  and  what 
is  secondary.  It  is  because  of  that  that  no  other  work  of  anthropological 
theory  has  received  such  brilliant  confirmation  from  later  researches  in 
the  field,  nor  is  any  one  of  them  likely  to  stimulate  future  research  to  the 
same  degree  as  the  Golden  Bough. 

To  substantiate  this  last  forecast  I  should  like  to  indicate,  on  one  more 
point,  this  suggestive  quality  of  Frazer's  theories.  I  mean  the  very  leitmotiv 
of  the  book,  the  importance  of  vegetable  cults  for  primitive  magic  and 
religion,  the  enormous  concern  of  primitive  mankind  for  the  soil's  fertility 
and  for  its  conditions,  the  sun,  the  rain,  and  the  weather.  Over  and  over 
again,  in  the  course  of  the  long  and  devious  explanations  of  the  ritual 
of  Nemi,  we  meet  with  the  magic  of  the  skies  and  of  the  soil,  with  the 
worship  of  trees,  with  the  belief  in  the  influence  of  sex  on  vegetable 
fertility,  with  harvesting  customs  and  superstitions,  with  gods  and  god- 
desses of  the  teeming  forces  of  Nature. 

The  reader  remains  under  the  impression  that  the  interest  in  the  vege- 
table world  has  exercised  an  overwhelming  influence  over  the  formation 
of  magical  and  religious  belief  and  ritual;  that  these,  like  the  luxuriant 
mantle  of  green  which  covers  our  earth,  have  grown  out  of  the  union  of 
the  skies  with  the  earth's  fertility. 

This  view,  indeed,  is  not  expressed  by  the  author,  who  even,  in  the 
preface  to  this  new,  abridged  edition,  repudiates  an  extreme  form  in  which 
this  opinion  had  been  imputed  to  him,  the  view,  namely,  that  all  religion 
starts  from  tree  worship.  '*I  am  so  far  from  regarding  the  reverence  for 
trees  as  of  supreme  importance  for  the  evolution  of  religion,  that  I  con- 
sider it  to  have  been  altogether  subordinate  to  other  factors."  This,  of 



course,  is  quite  true,  but  if,  instead  of  tree  worship,  we  take  the  wider 
complex  of  reHgious  phenomena,  the  cult  of  vegetation,  or  rather  of 
vegetable  fertility  and  its  conditions,  I  for  one  would  fully  endorse  the 
view  that  here  we  have  one  of  the  very  taproots  of  religious  growth.  I 
perceive,  moreover,  that  this  aspect  of  the  Frazerian  theories  opens  up  new 
lines  of  empirical  research  of  the  greatest  promise  and  importance. 

The  Golden  Bough,  in  this  regard,  shows  us  primitive  man  as  he  really 
is,  not  an  idle  onlooker  on  the  vast  and  varied  spectacle  of  Nature,  evolv- 
ing by  reflection  a  sort  of  speculative  philosophy  as  to  its  meaining  and 
origins,  but  an  eager  actor,  playing  his  part  for  his  own  benefit,  trying  to 
use  all  the  means  in  his  power  towards  the  attainment  of  his  various  needs 
and  desires:  supply  of  food,  shelter,  and  covering;  satisfaction  of  social 
ambitions  and  of  sexual  passions;  satisfaction  of  some  aesthetic  impulses 
and  of  sportive  and  playful  necessities.  He  is  interested  in  all  things  which 
subserve  these  ends  and  are  thus  immediately  useful.  Round  these  he  de- 
velops not  only  his  material  technique,  his  implements,  weapons,  and 
methods  of  economic  pursuit,  but  also  his  myths,  incantations,  rites,  and 
ceremonies,  the  whole  apparatus  of  primitive  science  and  superstition. 

Among  all  forces  of  Nature  useful  to  man,  the  earth's  fertility  occupies 
quite  a  privileged  and  special  position  in  the  mind  of  the  savage.  Vegetable 
life — in  its  perennial  periodicity  of  active  exuberance  and  relative  rest  in 
the  tropics;  of  life  and  death  in  the  cold  and  temperate  zones;  of  barren- 
ness and  fertility  in  certain  periodically  irrigated  deserts — exhibits  a 
regularity  and  system,  a  dependence  on  causes  and  motives,  which  seem 
to  be  almost  within  the  control  of  man,  yet  from  time  to  time  so  baffling 
to  all  his  endeavours  as  to  keep  his  interests,  hopes,  and  fears  constantly 
alive.  On  this  borderland,  where  man's  self-sufficiency  utterly  fails  him, 
yet  where  he  perceives  a  clear  order:  on  this  ground,  so  vital  to  himself 
and  so  clearly  subject  to  the  play  of  some  extraneous  regularities  or  wills, 
here  the  ideas  of  magic  and  religion,  always  a  cross-breed  of  reflection  and 
emotion,  flourish  most  abundantly.  Especially  where  man  begins  actively 
to  shape  the  forces  of  Nature  in  agriculture,  magic  ranges  itself  side  by 
side  with  technical  efforts  and  becomes  a  controlling  factor  of  immense 

It  would  be  natural  to  expect,  therefore,  that  among  savages  there 
exists  public  magic  of  fertility,  and  that,  on  the  sociological  side,  this  leads 
to  the  early  forms  of  chieftainship  and  kingship,  while  on  the  side  of 
behef  it  leads  to  important  developments  of  ritual  and  cult. 

Here  we  touch  on  the  sociological  aspect  of  Frazer's  theories  of  early 
magic.  He  clearly  recognises  the  existence  of  a  special  class,  who,  by  their 
magical  knowledge,  can  acquire  social  importance:  "the  public  magician 
occupies  a  position  of  great  influence,  from  which,  if  he  is  a  prudent  and 
able  man,  he  may  advance  step  by  step  to  the  rank  of  a  chief  or  king."  The 
author  further  proceeds  to  show  how  very  important  these  specialised 



magicians  are,  both  in  that  they  perform  their  services  for  the  whole  com- 
munity, thus  forming  an  integrating  power,  and  also  in  that  they  are  the 
first  examples  in  the  evolution  of  mankind  of  specialists  freed  from  the 
ordinary  burdens  and  occupations  of  their  fellow-tribesmen,  and  able  to 
devote  themselves  to  one  pursuit.  The  evidence  which  Sir  James  is  able  to 
adduce  in  support  of  his  theory  of  public  magic  and  of  its  sociological 
importance  is  great,  but  not  quite  adequate  to  substantiate  all  his  theories. 
Thus,  among  the  forms  of  public  magic,  Sir  James  can  find  examples  only 
by  referring  to  sunshine,  rain,  and  weather.  Even  this  material  does  not 
allow  him  to  demonstrate  in  detail  how  political  power  and  social  influ- 
ence arise  from  the  exercise  of  the  magical  functions.  We  are  led  to  in- 
quire: If  vegetable  and  fertility  rites  are  so  important,  how  is  it  that  there 
are  no  departmental  magicians  of  agriculture  on  record?  Why  does  the 
public  magician  only  control  the  conditions  of  fertility  and  not  fertility 
itself?  How  can  magical  influence  grow  into  political  power?  These  ques- 
tions seem  at  first  sight  to  qualify  and  invalidate  Frazer's  theories  of  early 
kingship  and  magic.  Yet  here  again,  recent  results  of  field-work  among 
primitive  people  allow  us  to  settle  these  doubts  and  cavils  in  a  manner  once 
more  triumphant  for  the  book,  which  shows  itself  to  have  been  ahead  of 
the  material  at  the  author's  disposal. 

In  ethnographical  researches  done  among  some  Papuo-Melanesian  tribes 
of  Eastern  New  Guinea,  I  found  myself  at  once  in  the  thick  of  a  social  and 
psychological  situation  such  as  is  postulated  by  the  Golden  Bough.  The 
office  of  the  chief  coincides  there  with  that  of  the  public  magician.  To  the 
control  of  rain  and  sunshine  the  chief  owes  an  enormous  proportion  of  his 
executive  power,  which  he  uses  to  strengthen  his  position  and  to  enforce 
his  general  will.  A  faithful  disciple  of  the  Golden  Bough,  I  turned  my 
attention  to  the  institutions  associated  with  agriculture.  Then  gradually  I 
began  to  see  that  Frazer's  theories  of  the  sociologies  of  magic,  of  the  role 
of  the  public  magician,  of  the  departmental  control  of  natural  forces, 
rested  on  much  more  solid  foundations  than  he  himself  had  been  able  to 
realise  with  the  material  in  hand,  and  that  this  can  be  demonstrated  on  the 
book's  own  territory,  that  of  vegetable  cults.  For  not  only  do  there  exist 
in  these  tribes  departmental  magical  rites  of  fertility,  not  only  are  they  the 
most  important  ones,  ranking  even  before  the  weather  rites  and  always 
carried  out  by  the  chief,  but  also  we  can  study  there  the  sociological 
mechanism  by  which  the  garden  magician  obtains  his  political  power. 

In  each  community  we  find  a  garden  magician,  who  performs  his  ritual 
for  public  benefit.  These  functions  are  always  vested  in  the  headman  of 
the  community.  In  villages  which  are  capitals  of  a  district  and  governed 
by  a  chief,  he  himself  carries  out  the  magic  of  vegetation.  In  this  role,  the 
headman  or  chief  commands  not  only  a  high  respect,  as  the  man  who  has 
in  his  hands  the  forces  of  fertility  and  who  knows  how  to  tap  them,  but 
he  also  takes  an  actual  lead  in  the  practical  pursuits  accompanied  by  the 



magic.  For  the  magical  ritual  is  intimately  bound  up  with  the  technical 
activities.  It  imposes  a  regularity  in  time,  and  compels  people  to  work  in 
order  and  in  organised  groups.  This  refers  to  several  forms  of  public  magic, 
such  as  canoe-building,  fishing,  and  overseas  expeditions,  but  most  con- 
spicuously to  garden  magic.  In  this,  the  magician  controls  the  work  of 
the  whole  community  during  the  course  of  the  year,  gives  the  initiative  to 
the  various  stages,  has  the  right  of  reprimand  and  punishment,  is  regarded 
as  the  man  responsible  for  success  and  failure,  and  receives  tributes  from 
his  fellow-villagers. 

Here  again  we  see  that,  starting  from  one  of  those  theories  of  the  Golden 
Bough  which  go  far  ahead  of  the  available  evidence,  field-work  reaches 
interesting  and  important  discoveries.  In  this  case  it  leads  to  the  study  of 
primitive  economics,  a  chapter  very  much  neglected  by  the  traveller  and 
amateur  ethnographer,  and  even  by  the  specialist,  which  promises,  however, 
to  yield  results  of  some  importance.  For  I  have  no  doubt  that  my  con- 
firmation of  Sir  James's  theories  from  a  limited  ethnographical  area  will 
be  followed  by  other  more  important  discoveries  all  the  world  over. 

Thus  the  Golden  Bough,  far  from  being  a  classic  in  the  sense  of  having 
attained  the  fulness  of  its  glory  and  deserving  honourable  rest,  is  a  book 
which  still  has  some  hard  service  in  the  field  before  it,  a  book  which  should 
be  in  the  kitbag  of  every  ethnographic  explorer.  A  modern  ethnographer, 
in  his  researches  among  savages,  must,  while  making  his  observations,  re- 
main still  in  contact  with  theoretical  literature  in  order  to  receive  from  it 
constant  inspiration  and  guidance,  especially  if  he  is  bent  on  doing  inten- 
sive field-work,  if  he  is  willing  and  able  to  remain  for  months  and  years 
among  the  same  tribe  and  study  it  by  means  of  their  own  language  and  by 
personally  taking  part  in  the  tribal  life.  In  such  study  I  derived  constant 
inspiration  and  benefit  from  the  works  of  Westermarckj  Karl  Biicher, 
Ratzel,  Marett,  Hubert  and  Mauss,  Crawley  and  Rivers,  some  of  which  I 
actually  have  re-read  while  in  the  field,  others  again  in  the  intervals  be- 
tween my  expeditions.  Alas!  at  that  time  the  twelve  volumes  of  the 
Golden  Bough  were  too  heavy  and  costly  a  burden  to  carry  across  sago 
swamps,  to  paddle  over  lagoons  in  an  out-rigger  always  ready  to  capsize, 
or  to  keep  in  a  tent  or  thatched  hut  by  no  means  rain  and  insect-proof. 
Now  the  more  fortunate  field-worker  can  easily  take  with  him,  handle, 
and  constantly  refer  to  the  new,  one-volume,  abridged  edition. 

To  the  student  in  his  library,  this  abridged  edition  will  no  doubt  only 
serve  as  a  handy  guide,  as  a  sort  of  explicit  digest,  or  to  the  beginner  as  a 
preliminary  introduction.  The  full  version  is  indispensable  to  the  student, 
and  it  is  also  the  most  fascinating  and  instructive  reading  to  the  layman. 
But  no  doubt  many  a  one  who  was  at  first  shy  of  tackling  directly  the 
Golden  Bough  will,  in  the  short  edition,  find  a  bridge  to  the  full  work, 
which  is  not  only  the  most  important  achievement  of  Sir  James  Frazer, 
but  also  the  last  word  of  modern  anthropological  scholarship. 





Though  the  Golden  Bough  will  always  rank  as  the  greatest  and  most 
original  achievement  of  Sir  James  Frazer,  while  again  in  Totemism  and 
Exogamy  he  has  given  his  most  important  contribution  to  scientific 
anthropology  and  sociology,  the  present  book  on  folklore  in  the  Old  Testa- 
ment, now  abridged  into  one  volume,  makes  an  even  greater  appeal  to  the 
reader's  general  or  philosophical  interest  than  the  other  works,  for  it  deals 
with  the  most  important  fact  in  human  tradition  and  literature,  and  one